Reason serves when press'd,
But honest Instinct comes a volunteer. -- POPE.
Sabinus and his Dog|
Porus Saved by his Elephant
Death of Antiochus Revenged
Rights of Hospitality
More Faithful than Favoured
The Broken Heart
Comedy of Quadrupeds
Elephant Rope Dancing
Profidential Safe Conduct
The Dog of Montargis
Wrens Learning to Sing
Dog and Goose
Mouse of Husafell
Bear and Child
Are Beasts mere Machines?
The Cape Swallow
Horse and Greyhound
Spiders the best Barometers
Wager Queerly Lost
Concerts of Animals
Long Lost Found Again
Friend in Need
Cunning as a Fox
Dying of Joy
A Good Finder
Feeding the Orphan
A Sly Couple
Sense of Ridicule
Effect of Colours
The Pig Pointer
Filial Tenderness and Address
Cat and Crows
Heroism of the Hen
The Shepherd's Dog
Colonel O'Kelly's Parrot
Chinese Fishing Birds
Constancy of Affection
Power of Music
Going to Market
Descending the Alps
Friendship a Guiding Star
Lion and his Keeper
Assisting the Aged
Saving from Drowning
Bisset, the Animal Teacher
Sonnini and his Cat
Division of Labour
The Tailor Bird
Of Two Evils Choosing the Least
Duty before Revenge
Taking the Water
Ants in a Flood
Power of Memory
The Ant Lion
Migration of the Swallow
One Swallow does not make Summer
Escape of Jengis Khan
The Secretary Falcon
The Battle Foundling
Union of Labour
Battles of the Ants
Bears in Jeopardy
The Catcher Caught
A Mother Watching her Young
Venturing to Sea
Deceiving the Fowler
The Stray Sheep
An Ass Cast Away
The Notes of Birds
Remembrance of Home
Shipwrecked Crew Saved
Honours Paid to Living and Departed Worth
Sabinus and his Dog.
AFTER the execution of Sabinus, the Roman general, who suffered death for his attachment to the family of Germanicus, his body was exposed to the public upon the precipice of the Gemoniae, as a warning to all who should dare to befriend the house of Germanicus: no friend had courage to approach the body; one only remained true - his faithful dog. For three days the animal continued to watch the body; his pathetic howlings awakened the sympathy of every heart. Food was brought him, which he was kindly encouraged to eat; but on taking the bread, instead of obeying the impulse of hunger, he fondly laid it on his master's mouth, and renewed his lamentations; days thus passed, nor did he for a moment quit the body.
The body was at length thrown into the Tiber, and the generous creature still unwilling that it should perish, leaped into the water after it, and clasping the corpse between his paws, vainly endeavoured to preserve it from sinking.
Porus Saved by his Elephant.
King Porus, in a battle with Alexander the Great, being severely wounded, fell from the back of his elephant. The Macedonian soldiers supposing him dead, pushed forward, in order to despoil him of his rich clothing and accoutrements; but the faithful elephant standing over the body of its master, boldly repelled every one who dared to approach, and while the enemy stood at bay, took the bleeding Porus up with his trunk, and placed him again on his back. The troops of Porus came by this time to his relief, and the king was saved: but the elephant died of the wounds which it had received in the heroic defence of its master.
Death of Antiochus Revenged.
When Antiochus was slain in battle by Centaretrius the Galatian, the victor exultingly leaped on the back of the fallen king's horse; but he had no sooner done so, than the animal, as if sensible that it was bestrode by the slayer of his master, instantly exhibited signs of the greatest fury, and bounding forwards to the top of a lofty rock, with a speed which defied every attempt of Centaretrius to disengage himself, leaped with him over the precipice, at the foot of which both were found dashed to pieces.
Rights of Hospitality.
'I have been assured,' says Chenier, in his 'Present State of Morocco,' 'that a Brebe who went to hunt the lion, having proceeded far into a forest, happened to meet with two lion's whelps that came to caress him; the hunter stopped with the little animals, and waiting for the coming of the sire or the dam took out his breakfast, and gave them a part. The lioness arrived unperceived by the huntsman, so that he had not time, or perhaps wanted the courage, to take to his gun. After having for some time looked at the man that was thus feasting her young, the lioness went away, and soon after returned, bearing with her a sheep, which she came and laid at the huntsman's feet.
'The Brebe thus become one of the family, took this occasion of making a good meal, skinned the sheep, made a fire, and roasted a part, giving the entrails to the young. The lion in his turn came also; and, as if respecting the rights of hospitality, showed no tokens whatever of ferocity. Their guest the next day having finished his provisions, returned, and came to a resolution never more to kill any of those animals, the noble generosity of which he had so fully proved. He stroked and caressed the whelps at taking leave of them, and the dam and sire accompanied him till he was safely out of the forest.'
A dreadful famine raged at Buenos Ayres during the government of Don Diego de Mendoza, in Paraguay; yet Don Diego, afraid of giving the Indians a habit of spilling Spanish blood, forbade the inhabitants on pain of death to go into the fields in search of relief, placing soldiers at all the outlets to the country, with orders to fire upon those who should attempt to transgress his orders. A woman, however, called Maldonata, was artful enough to elude the vigilance of the guards, and escape; after wandering about the country for a long time, she sought for shelter in a cavern, but she had scarcely entered it, when she espied a lioness, the sight of which terrified her. She was, however, soon quieted by the caresses of the animal, who was in a state in which assistance is of the most service, and most gratefully remembered even by the brute creation. Of this the lioness gave her benefactress the most sensible proofs. She never returned from searching after her own daily subsistence, without laying a portion of it at the feet of Maldonata, until her whelps being strong enough to walk abroad, she took them out with her and never returned.
Some time after, Maldonata fell into the hands of the Spaniards, and being brought back to Buenos Ayres, was conducted before Don Francis Ruiz de Galan. Who then commanded there, on the charge of having left the city contrary to orders. Galan was a man of cruelty, and condemned the unfortunate woman to a death which none but the most cruel tyrant could have thought of. He ordered some soldiers to take her into the country and leave her tied to a tree, either to perish by hunger, or to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, as he expected. Two days after, he sent the same soldiers to see what was become of her; when, to their great surprise, they found her alive and unhurt, though surrounded by lions and tigers, which a lioness at her feet kept at some distance. As soon as the lioness perceived the soldiers, she retired a little, and enabled them to unbind Maldonata, who related to them the history of this lioness, whom she knew to be the same she had formerly assisted in the cavern. On the soldiers taking Maldonata away, the lioness fawned upon her as unwilling to part. The soldiers reported what they had seen to the commander, who could not but pardon a woman who had been so singularly protected, without appearing more inhuman than lions themselves.
More Faithful than Favoured.
Sir Harry Lee, of Ditchley, in Oxfordshire, ancestor of the Earls of Lichfield, had a mastiff which guarded the house and yard, but had never met with the least particular attention from his master, and was retained from his utility alone, and not from any particular regard. One night, as his master was retiring to his chamber, attended by his faithful valet, an Italian, the mastiff silently followed him upstairs, which he had never been known to do before, and, to his master's astonishment, presented himself in his bedroom. Being deemed an intruder, he was instantly ordered to be turned out; which being done, the poor animal began scratching violently at the door, and howling loudly for admission. The servant was sent to drive him away. Discouragement could not check his intended labour of love, or rather providential impulse; he returned again, and was more importunate than before to be let in. Sir Harry, weary of opposition, bade the servant open the door, that they might see what he wanted to do. This done, the mastiff with a wag of his tail, and a look of affection at his lord, deliberately walked up, and crawling under the bed, laid himself down as if desirous to take up his night's lodging there. To save farther trouble, but not from any partiality for his company, the indulgence was allowed. About the solemn hour of midnight the chamber door opened, and a person was heard stepping across the room; Sir Harry started from his sleep; the dog sprung from his covert, and seizing the unwelcome disturber, fixed him to the spot! All was dark; and Harry rang his bell in great trepidation, in order to procure a light. The person who was pinned to the floor by the courageous mastiff roared for assistance. It was found to be the valet, who little expected such a reception. He endeavoured to apologize for his intrusion, and to make the reasons which induced him to take this step appear plausible; but the importunity of the dog, the time, the place, the manner of the valet, all raised suspicions in Sir Harry's mind; and he determined to refer the investigation of the business to a magistrate. The perfidious Italian, alternately terrified by the dread of punishment, and soothed with the hopes of pardon, at length confessed that it was his intention to murder his master, and then rob the house. This diabolical design was frustrated only by the instinctive attachment of the dog to his master, which seemed to have been directed on this occasion by the interference of Providence. How else could the poor animal know the meditated assassination? How else could he have learned to submit to injury and insult for his well-meant services, and finally seize and detain a person, who, it is probable, had shewn him more kindness than his owner had ever done? It may be impossible to reason on such a topic, but the facts are indisputable. A full-length picture of Sir Harry, with the mastiff by his side, and the words. 'More faithful than favoured,' are still to be seen at the family seat at Ditchley, and are a lasting monument of the gratitude of the master, the ingratitude of the servant, and the fidelity of the dog.
The Broken Heart.
A few days before the fall of Robespierre, a revolutionary tribunal in one of the departments of the North of France, condemned to death M. des R-, an ancient magistrate, and most estimable man, as guilty of conspiracy. M. des R. had a water spaniel, ten or twelve years old, of the small breed, which had been brought up by him, and had never quitted him. Des R. saw his family dispersed by a system of terror: some had taken flight; others, were arrested and carried into distant gaols; his domestics were dismissed; his friends had either abandoned him, or concealed themselves; he was himself in prison, and everything in the world was silent to him, except his dog. This faithful animal had been refused admittance into the prison. He had returned to his master's house, and found it shut; he took refuge with a neighbour who received him; but that posterity may judge rightly of the times in which we have existed, it must be added, that this man received him with trembling, and in secret, dreading lest his humanity for an animal should conduct him to the scaffold. Every day at the same hour the dog left the house, and went to the door of the prison. He was refused admittance, but he constantly passed an hour before it, and then returned. His fidelity at length won upon the porter, and he was, one day allowed to enter. The dog saw his master and clung to him. It was difficult to separate them, but the gaoler forced him away, and the dog returned to his retreat. He came back the next morning and every day; once each day he was admitted. He licked the hand of his friend, looked him in the face, again licked his hand, and went away of himself.
When the day of sentence arrived, notwithstanding the crowd, notwithstanding the guard, the dog penetrated into the hall, and crouched himself between the legs of the unhappy man, whom he was about to lose for ever. The judges condemned him; he was reconducted to the prison, and the dog for that time did not quit the door. The fatal hour arrives; the prison opens; the unfortunate man passes out; it is his dog that receives him at the threshold. He clings upon his hand, that hand which so soon must cease to pat his caressing head. He follows him; the axe falls; the master dies; but the tenderness of the dog cannot cease. The body is carried away; the dog walks at its side; the earth receives it; he lays himself upon the grave.
There he passed the first night, the next day, and the second night. The neighbour in the meantime unhappy at not seeing him, risks himself in searching for the dog: guesses, from the extent of his fidelity, the asylum he had chosen, finds him, caresses him, and makes him eat. An hour afterwards the dog escaped, and regained his favourite place. Three months passed away, each morning of which he came to seek his food, and then returned to the grave of his master; but each day he was more sad, more meagre, more languishing, and it was evident that he was gradually reaching his end. An endeavour was made, by chaining him up, to wean him, but nature will triumph. He broke his fetters; escaped; returned to the grave, and never quitted it more. It was in vain that they tried to bring him back. They carried him food, but he ate no longer. For four-and-twenty hours he was seen employing his weakened limbs in digging up the earth that separated him from the remains of the being he had so much loved. Passion gave him strength, and he gradually approached the body; his labours of affection vehemently increased; his efforts became convulsive; he shrieked in his struggles; his faithful heart gave way, and he breathed out his last gasp, as if he knew that he had found his master.
Among a pack of hounds kept by a gentleman in the middle of the last century, was a favourite bitch that he was very fond of, and which he used to suffer to come and lie in his parlour. This bitch had a litter of whelps, and the gentleman one day took them out of the kennel, when the bitch was absent, and drowned them. Shortly afterwards she came into the kennel, and, missing her offspring, sought them most anxiously: at length she found them drowned in the pond. She then brought them one by one, and laid them at her master's feet in the parlour; and when she had brought the last whelp she looked up in her master's face, laid herself down, and died.
Comedy of Quadrupeds.
In a play which Germanicus Caesar exhibited at Rome, in the reign of Tiberius, there were twelve elephant performers, six males and six females, clothed as men and women. After they had, at the command of their keeper, danced and performed a thousand curious antics, a most sumptuous feast was served up for their refreshment. The table was covered with all sorts of dainties, and golden goblets filled with the most precious wines; and beds covered with purple carpets were placed around for the animals to lie upon, after the manner of the Romans when feasting. On these carpets the elephants laid themselves down, and at a given signal they reached out their trunks to the table, and fell to eating and drinking with as much propriety as if they had been so many honest citizens.
Elephant Rope Dancing.
The case with which the elephant is taught to perform the most agile and difficult feats, forms a remarkable contrast to its huge unwieldiness of size. Aristotle tells us, that in ancient times, elephants were taught by their keepers to throw stones at a mark, to cast up arms in the air, and catch them again on their fall; and to dance not merely on the earth, but on the rope. The first, according to Suetonius, who exhibited elephant rope dancers, was Galba at Rome. The manner of teaching them to dance on the ground was simple enough (by the association of music and a hot floor); but we are not informed how they were taught to skip the rope, or whether it was the tight or the slack rope, or how high the rope might be.
The silence of history on these points is fortunate for the figurantes of the present day; since, but for this, their fame might have been utterly eclipsed. Elephants may in the days of old Rome have been taught to dance on the rope, but when was an elephant ever known to skip on a rope over the heads of an audience, or to caper amidst a blaze of fire fifty feet aloft in the air? What would Aristotle have thought of his dancing elephants, if he had seen Madame Saqui?
John Leo, in his 'Description Africae,' printed in the year 1556, relates an account of an ass, which, if true, proves that this animal is not so stupid and indocile as he is commonly represented. He says, 'When the Mahommedan worship is over, the common people of Cairo resort to the part of the suburbs called Bed-Elloch, to see the exhibition of stage players, and mountebanks who teach camels, asses, and dogs, to dance. The dancing of the ass is diverting enough; for after he has frisked and capered about, his master tells him, that the Soldan meaning to build a great palace, intends to employ all the asses in carrying mortar, stones, and other materials; upon which the ass falls down with his heels upwards, closing his eyes and extending his chest, as if he were dead. This done, the master begs some assistance of the company, to make up for the loss of the dead ass; and having got all he can, he gives them to know that truly his ass is not dead, but only being sensible of his master's necessity, played that trick to procure some provender. Then he commands the ass to rise, who still lies in the same posture, notwithstanding all the blows he can give him; till at last he proclaims, that by virtue of an edict by the Soldan, all the handsome ladies are bound to ride out the next day upon the comeliest asses they can find, in order to see a triumphal show, and to entertain their asses with oats and Nile water. These words are no sooner pronounced than the ass starts up, prances, and leaps for joy. The master then declares that his ass has been pitched upon by the warden of his street to carry his deformed and ugly wife upon which the ass lowers his ears, and limps with one of his legs as if he were lame. Then the master, alleging that his ass admires handsome women, commands him to single out the prettiest lady in company; and accordingly he makes his choice by going round and touching one of the prettiest with his head, to the great amusement of the company.'
I, myself,' says Plutarch, 'saw a dog at Rome, whose master had taught him many pretty tricks, and amongst others the following: He soaked a piece of bread in a certain drug, which was indeed somniferous, but which he would have had us believe was a deadly potion. The dog, as soon as he had swallowed it, affected to quake, tremble, and stagger, as if quite stupefied. At length it fell down, seemed to breathe its last, and became stretched out in all the stiffness of death, suffering any person to pull it about or turn it over without indicating the least symptom of life. The master was now lavish in his endeavours to restore the poor creature to life; and after a short time, when it understood by a secret hint that its time for recovery was come, it began by little and little to revive, as if awaked from a dead sleep, slowly lifted up its head, and opening its eyes, gazed with a wild, vacant stare on all around. In a few minutes it got upon its feet, shook itself as it were free from its enthralment, and recognising its master, ran merrily up to him. The whole of this scene was performed so naturally, that all who were present (among whom was the Emperor Vespasian) were exceedingly delighted.'
Profidential Safe Conduct.
Frejus, in his 'Relation of a Voyage made into Mauritania,' translated nto English, and printed in the year 1671, gives a singular anecdote of a lion, which he says was related to him in that country by very credible persons. About the year 1614 or 1615, two Christian slaves at Morocco made their escape, travelling by night, and hiding themselves in the tops of trees during the day, their Arab pursuers frequently passing by them. One night, while pursuing their journey, they mere much astonished and alarmed to see a great lion close by them, who walked when they walked, and stood still when they stood. Thinking this a safe conduct sent to them by Providence, they took courage, and travelled in the daytime in company with the lion. The horsemen who had been sent in pursuit came up, and would have seized upon them, but the lion interposed, and they were suffered to pass on. Every day these poor fugitives met with some one or other of the human race who wanted to seize them, but the lion was their protector until they reached the sea coast in safety, when he left them.
The Dog of Montargis.
The fame of an English dog has been deservedly transmitted to posterity by a monument in basso-relievo, which still remains on the chimney-piece of the grand hall, at the Castle of Montargis in France. The sculpture, which represents a dog fighting with a champion, is explained by the following narrative:
Aubri de Mondidier, a gentleman of family and fortune, travelling alone through the Forest of Bondi, was murdered and buried under a tree. His dog, an English bloodhound, would not quit his master's grave for several days, till at length, compelled by hunger, he proceeded to the house of an intimate friend of the unfortunate Aubri's at Paris, and by his melancholy howling seemed desirous of expressing the loss they had both sustained. He repeated his cries, ran to the door, looked back to see if any one followed him, returned to his master's friend, pulled him by the sleeve, and with dumb eloquence entreated him to go with him.
The singularity of all these actions of the dog, added to the circumstance of his coming there without his master, whose faithful companion he had always been, prompted the company to follow the animal, who conducted them to a tree, where he renewed his howl, scratching the earth with his feet, and significantly entreating them to search that particular spot. Accordingly, on digging, the body of the unhappy Aubri was found.
Some time after, the dog accidentally met the assassin, who is styled by all the historians that relate this fact, the Chevalier Macaire, when instantly seizing him by the throat, he was with great difficulty compelled to quit his prey.
In short, whenever the dog saw the chevalier, he continued to pursue and attack him with equal fury. Such obstinate virulence in the animal, confined only to Macaire, appeared very extraordinary, especially to those who at once recollected the dog's remarkable attachment to his master, and several instances in which Macaire's envy and hatred to Aubri de Mondidier had been conspicuous.
Additional circumstances created suspicion, and at length the affair reached the royal ear. The king (Louis VIII.) accordingly sent for the dog, who appeared extremely gentle till he perceived Macaire in the midst of several noblemen, when he ran fiercely towards him, growling at and attacking him as usual.
The king, struck with such a collection of circumstantial evidence against Macaire, determined to refer the decision to the chance of battle; in other words, he gave orders for a combat between the chevalier and the dog. The lists were appointed in the Isle of Notre Dame, then an unenclosed, uninhabited place, and Macaire was allowed for his weapon a great cudgel.
An empty cask was given to the dog as a place of retreat, to enable him to recover breath. Everything being prepared, the dog no sooner found himself at liberty than he ran around his adversary, avoiding his blows, and menacing him on every side, till his strength was exhausted; then springing forward, he gripped him by the throat, threw him on the ground, and obliged him to confess his guilt, in the presence of the king and the whole court. In consequence of this, the chevalier, after a few days, was convicted upon his own acknowledgment, and beheaded on a scaffold in the Isle of Notre Dame.
The above recital is translated from 'Memoires sur les Duels,' and is cited by many critical writers, particularly by Julius Scaliger and Montfaucon, who has given an engraved representation of the combat between the dog and the chevalier.
Wrens Learning to Sing.
A wren built her nest in a box, so situated that a family had an opportunity of observing the mother bird instructing the young ones in the art of singing peculiar to the species. She fixed herself on one side of the opening in the box, directly before her young, and began by singing over her whole song very distinctly. One of the young then attempted to imitate her. After proceeding through a few notes, its voice broke, and it lost the tune. The mother immediately recommenced where the young one had failed, and went very distinctly through the remainder. The young bird made a second attempt, commencing where it had ceased before, and continuing the song as long as it was able; and when the note was again lost, the mother began anew where it stopped, and completed it. Then the young one resumed the tune and finished it. This done, the mother sang over the whole series of notes a second time with great precision; and a second of the young attempted to follow her. The wren pursued the same course with this as with the first; and so with the third and fourth. It sometimes happened that the young one would lose the tune three, four, or more times in the same attempt; in which case the mother uniformly began where they ceased, and sung the remaining notes; and when each had completed the trial, she repeated the whole strain. Sometimes two of the young commenced together. The mother observed the same conduct towards them as when one sang alone. This was repeated day after day, and several times in a day.
Most of the small birds of Southern Africa (says Mr. Barrow) construct their nests in such a manner, that they can be entered only by one small orifice, and many suspend them from the slender extremities of high branches. A species of loxia, or grossbeak, always hangs its nest on a branch extending over a river or pool of water. It is shaped exactly like a chemist's retort; is suspended from the head, and the shank of eight or nine inches long, at the bottom of which is the aperture, almost touches the water. It is made of green grass firmly put together, and curiously woven. Another small bird, the Parus Capensis, or Cape Titmouse, constructs its nest of the pappus, or down of a species of asclepias.
This nest is made of the texture of flannel, and the finest fleecy hosiery is not more soft. Near the upper end projects a small tube about an inch in length, with an orifice about three-fourths of an inch in diameter. Immediately under the tube is a small hole in the side, that has no communication with the interior part of the nest; in this hole the male sits at night, and thus they are both screened from the weather. The sparrow in Africa hedges round its nest with thorns; and even the swallow under the eaves of houses, or in the rifts of rocks, makes a tube to its nest of six or seven inches in length. The same kind of birds in Northern Europe, having nothing to apprehend from monkeys, snakes, and other noxious animals, construct open nests.
Dog and Goose.
A Canadian goose, kept at East Barnet, in Hertfordshire, a few years ago, was observed to attach itself in the strongest and most affectionate manner to the house dog, but never presumed to go into the kennel except in rainy weather; whenever the dog barked, the goose would cackle, and run at the person she supposed the dog barked at, and try to bite him by the heels. Sometimes she would attempt to feed with the dog; but this the dog, who treated his faithful companion with indifference, would not suffer. This bird would not go to roost with the others at night, unless driven by main force; and when in the morning they were turned into the field, she would never stir from the yard gate, but sit there the whole day in sight of the dog. At length orders were given that she should no longer be molested; being thus left to herself, she ran about the yard with him all night, and what is particularly remarkable, whenever the dog went out of the yard and ran into the village, the goose always accompanied him, contriving to keep up with him by the assistance of her wings, and in this way of running and flying, followed him all over the parish. This extraordinary affection of the goose towards the dog, which continued till his death, two years after it was first observed, is supposed to have originated in his having saved her from a fox, in the very moment of distress.
While the dog was ill, the goose never quitted him, day or night, not even to feed; and it was apprehended that she would have been starved to death, had not a pan of corn been set every day close to the kennel. At this time, the goose generally sat in the kennel, and would not suffer any one to approach it, except the person who brought the dog's, or her own food. The end of this faithful bird was melancholy; for when the dog died, she would still keep possession of the kennel; and a new house dog being introduced, which in size and colour resembled that lately lost, the poor goose was unhappily deceived, and going into the kennel as usual, the new inhabitant seized her by the throat and killed her.
A shepherd, who was hanged for sheep stealing about forty years ago, used to commit his depredations by means of his dog. When he intended to steal any sheep, he detached the dog to perform the business. With this view, under pretence of looking at the sheep, with an intention to purchase them, he went through the flock with the dog at his foot, to whom he secretly gave a signal, so as to let him know the particular sheep he wanted, perhaps to the number of ten or twelve, out of a flock of some hundreds: he then went away, and from a distance of several miles, sent back the dog by himself in the night time, who picked out the individual sheep that had been pointed out to him; separated them from the flock, and drove them before him, frequently a distance of ten or twelve miles, till he came up with his master, to whom he delivered up his charge.
A Scotch newspaper of the year 1816, states that a carrion crow, perceiving a brood of fourteen chickens under the care of the parent hen, on a lawn, picked up one; but on a young lady opening the window and giving an alarm, the robber dropped his prey. In the course of the day, however, the plunderer returned, accompanied by thirteen other crows, when every one seized his bird, and carried off the whole brood at once.
In the Netherlands, they use dogs of a very large and strong breed, for the purpose of draught. They are harnessed like horses, and chiefly employed in drawing little carts with fish, vegetables, &c., to market. Previous to the year 1795, such dogs were also employed in smuggling; which was the more easy, as they are exceedingly docile. The dogs were trained to go backwards and forwards between two places on the frontiers, without any person to attend them. Being loaded with little parcels of goods, lace, &c., like mules, they set out at midnight, and only went when it was perfectly dark. An excellent quick-scented dog always went some paces before the others, stretched out his nose towards all quarters, and when he scented custom-house officers, &c., turned back, which was the signal for immediate flight. Concealed behind bushes, in ditches, &c., the dogs waited till all was safe, then proceeded on their journey, and reached at last beyond the frontier the dwelling house of the receiver of the goods, who was in the secret. But here, also, the leading dog only at first shewed himself; on a certain whistle, which was a signal that all was right, they all hastened up. They were then unloaded, taken to a convenient stable, where there was a good layer of hay, and well fed. There they rested until midnight, and then returned in the same manner back, over the frontiers.
A gentleman travelling through Mecklenburg about thirty years ago, was witness to the following curious circumstance in the post-house at New Stargard. After dinner, the landlord placed on the floor a large dish of soup, and gave a loud whistle. Immediately there came into the room a mastiff, a fine Angora cat, an old raven, and a remarkably large rat with a bell about its neck. These four animals went to the dish, and without disturbing each other, fed together; after which the dog, cat, and rat, lay before the fire, while the raven hopped about the room.
Mouse of Husafell.
The mouse which has given to Husafell, in Jutland, a celebrity which it might not have otherwise possessed, is supposed by Alafsen and Porelsen to be a variation of the wood or economical mouse. In a country, says Mr. Pennant, where berries are but thinly dispersed these little animals are obliged to cross rivers to make their distant forages. In returning with their booty to their magazines, they are obliged to recross the stream; of the mode of doing which Mr. Alafsen gives the following account:- 'The party, which consists of from six to ten, select a piece of dried cow-dung, on which they place the berries on a heap in the middle; then, by their united force, bring it to the water's edge, and after launching it, embark and place themselves round the heap, with their heads joined over it, and their backs to the water, their tails pendent in the stream, serving the purpose of rudders.'
Some doubts having been entertained as to the truth of this mousaic mode of navigation, a recent traveller in Jutland made a particular point of inquiring of different individuals as to the fact, and the confirmation which he furnishes is most clear and explicit. 'It is now,' he says, 'established as an important fact in natural history, by the testimony of two eyewitnesses of unquestionable veracity, the clergyman of Briamslok and Madame Benedictson of Skikesholm; both of whom assured me that they had seen the expedition repeatedly. Madame B. in particular, recollected having spent a whole afternoon, in her younger days, at the margin of a small lake, on which these navigators had embarked, and amused herself and her companions by driving them away from the side of the lake as they approached them.'
Bear and Child.
Leopold, Duke of Loraine, had a bear called Marco, of the sagacity and sensibility of which we have the following remarkable instance. During the winter of 1709, a Savoyard boy, ready to perish with cold in a barn, in which he had been put by a good woman, with some more of his companions, thought proper to enter Marco's hut, without reflecting on the danger which he ran in exposing himself to the mercy of the animal which occupied it. Marco, however, instead of doing any injury to the child, took him between his paws, and warmed him by pressing him to his breast until the next morning, when he suffered him to depart to ramble about the city. The Savoyard returned in the evening to the hut, and was received with the same affection. For several days he had no other retreat, and it added not a little to his joy, to perceive that the bear regularly reserved part of his food for him. A number of days passed in this manner without the servants knowing anything of the circumstance. At length, when one of them came one day to bring the bear his supper, rather later than ordinary, he was astonished to see the animal roll his eyes in a furious manner, and seeming as if he wished him to make as little noise as possible, for fear of awaking the child, whom he clasped to his breast. The animal, though ravenous, did not appear the least moved with the food which was placed before him. The report of this extraordinary circumstance was soon spread at court, and reached the ears of Leopold; who, with part of his courtiers, was desirous of being satisfied of the truth of Marco's generosity. Several of them passed the night near his hut and beheld with astonishment that the bear never stirred as long as his guest showed an inclination to sleep. At break of day the child awoke, was very much ashamed to find himself discovered, and, fearing that he would be punished for his rashness, begged pardon. The bear however caressed him, and endeavoured to prevail on him to eat what had been brought to him the evening before, which he did at the request of the spectators, who conducted him to the prince. Having learned the whole history of this singular alliance, and the time which it had continued, Leopold ordered care to be taken of the little Savoyard, who would doubtless have soon made his fortune, had he not died a short time after.
A young man, desirous of getting rid of his dog, took it along with him to the Seine. He hired a boat, and rowing into the stream, threw the animal in. The poor creature attempted to climb up the side of the boat, but his master, whose intention was to drown him, constantly pushed him back with the oar. In doing this, he fell himself into the water, and would certainly have been drowned, had not the dog, as soon as he saw his master struggling in the stream, suffered the boat to float away, and held him above water till assistance arrived, and his life was saved.
Are Beasts mere Machines?
Dr. Arnaud d'Antilli one day talking with the Duke de Liancourt upon the new philosophy of M. Descartes, maintained that beasts were mere machines, and had no sort of reason to direct them; and that when they cried or made a noise, it was only one of the wheels of the clock or machine that made it. The duke, who was of a different opinion, replied, 'I have now in my kitchen two turnspits, who take their turns regularly every other day to get into the wheel; one of them, not liking his employment, hid himself on the day that he should work, so that his companion was forced to mount the wheel in his stead, but crying and wagging his tail, he made a sign for those in attendance to follow him. He immediately conducted them to a garret, where he dislodged the idle dog, and killed him immediately.'
A French officer, more remarkable for his birth and spirit than his wealth, had served the Venetian republic for some years with great valour and fidelity, but had not met with that preferment which he merited. One day he waited on a nobleman whom he had often solicited in vain, but on whose friendship he had still some reliance. The reception he met with was cool and mortifying; the nobleman turned his back upon the necessitous veteran, and left him to find his way to the street through a suite of apartments magnificently furnished. He passed them lost in thought; till, casting his eyes on a sumptuous sideboard, where a valuable collection of Venetian glass, polished and formed in the highest degree of perfection, stood on a damask cloth as a preparation for a splendid entertainment, he took hold of a corner of the linen, and turning to a faithful English mastiff which always accompanied him, said to the animal, in a kind of absence of mind, 'Here, my poor old friend; you see how these haughty tyrants indulge themselves, and yet how we are treated!' The poor dog looked his master in the face, and gave tokens that he understood him. The master walked on, but the mastiff slackened his pace, and laying hold of the damask cloth with his teeth, at one hearty pull brought all the glass on the sideboard in shivers to the ground, thus depriving the insolent noble of his favourite exhibition of splendour.
The Cape Swallow.
Captain Carmichael, an active and intelligent observer, relates the following fact respecting the natural history of the swallow. Swallows are birds of passage at the southern extremities of Africa, as well as in Europe. They return to the Cape of Good Hope in the month of September, and quit it again in March or April. Captain Carmichael happening to be stationed for some time at the eastern extremity of the colony, a pair of the hirundo Capensis, soon after their arrival, built their nest on the outside of the house wherein he lodged, fixing it against the angle formed by the wall, with the board which supported the eaves. The whole of this nest was covered in, and it was furnished with a long neck or passage, through which the birds entered and came out. It resembled the longitudinal section of a Florence oil flask. This nest having fallen down after the young birds had quitted it, the same pair, as he is disposed to believe, built again on the old foundation in the month of February following: but he remarked on this occasion an improvement in the construction of it, which can hardly be referred to the dictates of mere instinct. In building the first, the birds were satisfied with a single opening, but this one was furnished with an opening on each side; and on watching their motions, he observed that they invariably entered at one side, and went out at the other. One object obtained by this improvement, was saying themselves the trouble of turning in the nest, and thus avoiding any derangement of its interior economy. But the chief object appeared to be to facilitate their escape from the attacks of serpents, which harbour in the roots of thatched houses, or crawl up along the walls, and not unfrequently devour both the mother and her young.
One of the magistrates in Harbour Grace, in Newfoundland, had an old dog of the regular web-footed species peculiar to this island, who was in the habit of carrying a lantern before his master at night, as steadily as the most attentive servant could do, stopping short when his master made a stop, and proceeding when he saw him disposed to follow. If his master was absent from home, on the lantern being fixed to his mouth, and the command given, 'Go fetch thy master,' he would immediately set off and proceed directly to the town, which lay at the distance of more than a mile from the place of his master's residence: he would then stop at the door of every house which he knew his master was in the habit of frequenting, and laying down his lantern, growl and strike the door, making all the noise in his power until it was opened; if his master was not there, he would proceed farther in the same manner, until he had found him. If he had accompanied him only once into a house, this was sufficient to induce him to take that house in his round.
A few years ago an elephant at Dekan, from some motive of revenge, killed his cornack, or conductor. The man's wife, who beheld the dreadful scene, took her two children, and threw them at the feet of the enraged animal, saying, 'Since you have slain my husband, take my life also, as well as that of my children.' The elephant instantly stopped, relented, and as if stung with remorse, took up the eldest boy with his trunk, placed him on its neck, adopted him for his cornack, and would never afterwards allow any other person to mount it.
A tame elephant, kept by a merchant at Bencoolen, was suffered to go at large. The animal used to walk about the streets in as quiet and familiar a manner as any of the inhabitants; and delighted much in visiting the shops, particularly those which sold herbs and fruit, where he was well received, except by a couple of brutal cobblers, who, without any cause, took offence at the generous creature, and once or twice attempted to wound his proboscis with their awls. The noble animal, who knew it was beneath him to crush them, did not disdain to chastise them by other means. He filled his large trunk with a considerable quantity of water, not of the cleanest quality, and advancing to them as usual, covered them at once with a dirty flood. The fools were laughed at, and the punishment applauded.
The celebrated Leibnitz relates an account of a dog who was taught to speak, and could call in an intelligible manner for tea, coffee, chocolate, &c.
The dog was of a middling size, and the property of a peasant in Saxony. A little boy, the peasant's son, imagined that he perceived in the dog's voice an indistinct resemblance to certain words, and was therefore determined to teach him to speak distinctly. For this purpose he spared neither time nor pains with his pupil, who was about three years old when his learned education commenced; and at length he made such progress in language, as to be able to articulate no less than thirty words. It appears, however, that he was somewhat of a truant, and did not very willingly exert his talents, being rather pressed into the service of literature, and it was necessary that the words should be first pronounced to him each time before he spoke. The French academicians who mention this anecdote, add, that unless they had received the testimony of so great a man as Leibnitz, they should scarcely have dared to relate the circumstance.
Horse and Greyhound.
Various have been the opinions upon the difference of speed between a well-bred greyhound and a racehorse, if opposed to each other. Wishes had been frequently indulged by the sporting world, that some criterion could be adopted by which the superiority of speed could be fairly ascertained, when the following circumstance accidentally took place, and afforded some information upon what had been previously considered a matter of great uncertainty. In the month of December, 1800, a match was to have been run over Doncaster racecourse for one hundred guineas, but one of the horses having been drawn, a mare started alone, that by running the ground she might ensure the wager; when having run about one mile in the four, she was accompanied by a greyhound bitch, which joined her from the side of the course, and emulatively entering into the competition, continued to race with the mare for the other three miles, keeping nearly head and head, and affording an excellent treat to the field by the energetic exertions of each. At passing the distance post, five to four was betted in favour of the greyhound; when parallel with the stand, it was even betting, and any person might have taken his choice from five to ten; the mare, however, had the advantage by a head at the termination of the course.
A gentleman who had taken an active share in the rebellion of 1715, after the battle of Preston, escaped into the West Highlands, where a lady, a near relative, afforded him an asylum. A faithful servant conducted him to the mouth of a cave, and furnished him with an abundant store of provisions. The fugitive crept in at a low aperture, dragging his stores along. When he reached a wider and loftier expanse, he found some obstacle before him. He drew his dirk but unwilling to strike, lest he might take the life of a companion in seclusion, he stooped down, and discovered a goat with her kid stretched on the ground. He soon perceived that the animal was in great pain, and, feeling her body and limbs, ascertained that her leg was fractured. He bound it up with his garter, and offered her a share of the bread beside him; but she stretched out her tongue, as if to apprize him that her mouth was parched with thirst. He gave her water, which she took readily, and then ate some bread. After midnight he ventured out of the cave: all was still. He plucked an armful of grass and cut tender twigs, which the goat accepted with manifestations of joy and thankfulness. The prisoner derived much comfort in having a living creature in this dungeon, and he caressed and fed her tenderly. The man who was entrusted to bring him supplies fell sick; and when another attempted to penetrate into the cavern, the goat furiously opposed him, presenting her horns in all directions, till the fugitive, hearing a disturbance, came forward. This new attendant giving the watchword, removed every doubt of his good intentions, and the amazon of the recess obeyed her benefactor in permitting him to advance. The gentleman was convinced, that had a band of military attacked the cavern, his grateful patient would have died in his defence.
The devices of the goat to hide her young from the fox are very remarkable. She discerns her enemy at great distance, conceals her treasure in a thicket, and boldly intercepts the formidable marauder. He seldom fails to approach the place where the kid is crouching, but the dam, with her horns, receives him at all points, and never yields till spent with fatigue and agitation. If a high crag, or stone, should be near when she descries the fox, she mounts upon it, taking her young one under her body. The fox goes round and round, to catch an opportunity for making a spring at the little trembler, and there have been instances of his seizing it; but the goat thrusts her horns into his flank, with such force as to be often unable to withdraw them, and all three have frequently been found dead at the bottom of the precipice. It is a singular fact, that the goats know their progeny to several generations, and each tribe herds together on the hills, or reposes in the cot in separate parties.
A shepherd who inhabited one of those valleys or glens which intersect the Grampian mountains, in one of his excursions to look after his flock, happened to carry along with him one of his children, an infant of three years old. This is not an unusual practice among the Highlanders, who accustom their children from their earliest infancy to endure the rigours of the climate. After traversing his pastures for some time, attended by his dog, the shepherd found himself under the necessity of ascending a summit at some distance, to have a more extensive view of his range. As the ascent was too fatiguing for the child, he left him on a small plain at the bottom, with strict injunctions not to stir from it till his return. Scarcely, however, had he gained the summit, when the horizon was darkened by one of those impenetrable mists which frequently descend so rapidly amidst these mountains, as, in the space of a few minutes, almost to turn day to night. The anxious father instantly hastened back to find his child; but owing to the unusual darkness, and his own trepidation, he unfortunately missed his way in the descent. After a fruitless search of many hours, he discovered that he had reached the bottom of the valley, and was near his own cottage. To renew the search that night was equally fruitless and dangerous; he was therefore compelled to go home, although he had lost both his child and his dog, who had attended him faithfully for many years. Next morning, by break of day, the shepherd, accompanied by a band of his neighbours, set out in search of his child; but after a day spent in fruitless fatigue, he was at last compelled by the approach of night to descend from the mountain. On returning to his cottage, he found that the dog which he had lost the day before, had been home, and on receiving a piece of cake, had instantly gone off a-gain. For several successive days the shepherd renewed the search for his child, and still, on returning home disappointed in the evening, he found that the dog had been home, and, on receiving his usual allowance of cake, had instantly disappeared. Struck with this singular circumstance, he remained at home one day; and when the dog, as usual, departed with his piece of cake, he resolved to follow him, and find out the cause of this strange procedure. The dog led the way to a cataract at some distance from, the spot where the shepherd had left his child. The banks of the cataract almost joined at the top, yet separated by an abyss of immense depth, presented that appearance which so often astonishes and appals the travellers that frequent the Grampian mountains. Down one of those rugged, and almost perpendicular descents, the dog began without hesitation, to make his way, and at last disappeared by entering into a cave, the mouth of which was almost level with the torrent. The shepherd with difficulty followed; but, on entering the cave what were his emotions, when he beheld his infant eating with much satisfaction the cake which the dog had just brought him; while the faithful animal stood by, eyeing his young charge with the utmost complacency! From the situation in which the child was found, it appeared that he had wandered to the brink of the precipice, and then either fallen or scrambled down till he reached the cave. The dog by means of his scent had traced him to the spot; and afterwards prevented him from starving, by giving up to him his own daily allowance. He appears never to have quitted the child by night or day, except when it was necessary to go for food; and then he was always seen running at full speed to and from the cottage.
Spiders the best Barometers
In the commotions which took place in Holland, when the Stadtholder was reinstated by the Prussian arms, M. Quatremere d'Isjonval, a Frenchman, was arrested and imprisoned at Utrecht, where he spent upwards of seven Years, deprived of his liberty. To amuse himself during this long confinement, he courted the acquaintance of spiders, studied their constitution and temperament, and, after a long series of accurate observations, he made the important discovery, that they were the most weather-wise of all creatures. Their presentiment of approaching changes is incomparably more refined and certain than the variations indicated by the best barometers, thermometers, or hygrometers. A weather-glass points out only the probable state of the weather for the next day; but with respect to a permanent or longcontinued state of the atmosphere, this instrument cannot be relied upon. Spiders, however, have not only an obvious sensation of the approaching changes of the weather, similar to that manifested by a barometer, but they also indicate, with the greatest exactness, the more distant changes for a considerable length of time; nay, they foretell with precision, for a period of ten days or a fortnight, those states of the atmosphere which are of a settled nature. Of this M. d'Isjonval was enabled, in the end, to furnish a most striking proof.
On Wednesday, the 16th of January, 1795, the wind changed to the northward; on Thursday it began to freeze, and the frost increased to such a degree, that the French were enabled to enter Utrecht, and to release their imprisoned countryman, M. d'Isjonval: but on the 20th of January, an unexpected thaw
threatened to frustrate the design of the invaders, who had advanced with all their heavy artillery, accompanied by an army of one hundred thousand men, to pass the icy bridges which nature had apparently constructed for facilitating their hostile operations. The French generals were filled with apprehensions, and began to think of the necessity of retreating,, when M. d'lsjonval having consulted his meteorological assistants, the spiders, went and told his countrymen that they had no cause for the least alarm, for that in a day or two the frost would return with greater intensity than had been known in Holland for ages. The prediction was fully verified. The very next day the frost recommenced, with almost unequalled severity; and Holland, no longer able to avail itself of its pent-up floods, became an easy prey to the revolutionizing republicans.
The manner in which spiders carry on their operations, conformably to the impending changes of the atmosphere, is simply this: If the weather is likely to become rainy, windy, or in other respects disagreeable, they fix the terminating filaments, on which the whole web is suspended, unusually short; and in this state they await the influence of a temperature which is remarkably variable. On the contrary, if the terminating filaments are made uncommonly long, we may, in proportion to their length, conclude that the weather will be serene, and continue so at least for ten or twelve days. But if the spiders be totally indolent, rain generally succeeds; though, on the other hand, their inactivity during rain is the most certain proof that it will be only of short duration, and followed with fair, and very constant weather. According to further observations, the spiders regularly make some alteration in their webs or nets every twenty-four hours: if these changes take place between the hours of six and seven in the evening, they indicate a clear and pleasant night.
Wager Queerly Lost.
In the year 1765, one Carr, a waterman, having laid a wager that he and his dog would both leap from the centre arch of Westminster bridge, and land at Lambeth within a minute of each other; he jumped off first and the dog immediately followed; but not being in the secret, and fearing his master should be drowned, he laid hold of him by the neck and dragged him on shore, to the no small diversion of the spectators.
Concerts of Animals.
The abbot of Baigne, a man of wit, and skilled in the construction of new musical instruments, was ordered by Louis XI., King of France, more in jest than in earnest, to procure him a concert of swines' voices. The abbot said that the thing could doubtless be done, but that it would take a good deal of money. The king ordered that he should have whatever he required for the purpose. The abbot, says Bayle, then 'wrought a thing as singular as ever was seen. For out of a great number of hogs of several ages which he got together, and placed under a tent, or pavilion, covered with velvet, before which he had a table of wood painted, with a certain number of keys, he made an organical instrument, and as he played upon the said keys with little spikes, which pricked the hogs, he made them cry in such order and consonance, he highly delighted the king and all his company.'
The French Encyclopedia, article chant, concisely narrates the history of a whimsical procession which was displayed at Brussels in 1549. A part of the show consisted of a car, in which was an organ played on by a bear. Instead of pipes, this instrument contained a collection of cats, each confined separately in a kind of narrow case, so that they could not move, but their tails were held upright, and attached to the jacks in such a manner, that when the bear touched the keys, he pulled the tails of the parties enclosed, and produced a most mellifluous mewing and wailing, in the C clef we suppose, treble, counter-tenor, and tenor; the organist himself, perhaps, being invited by the same machinery, utters a base accompaniment.
Some years ago there was exhibited at Paris, an instrument constructed on a similar principle. The number of performers was about a dozen; and by means of keys well touched, their powers were exerted con spirito, et furiosa, for the delight of their auditory. The happy arrangement of their tones had the most fascinating effect on the ear; and a crescendo was delightful! All the world - or what is exactly the same thing - all Paris, went to hear this wonderful multivocal organ; this uncommon combination of pipes. All Paris was enchantee hors de raison: and every beau and belle thought, talked, and dreamed of nothing but - of cat-harmony. Unhappily, a favourite singer at the opera was taken ill, and while labouring under a complaint in the lungs, a subscription for his support was proposed and countenanced by 'the fashion.' The cat-organist taking the hint, at the close of his concert, passing his hat round among his audience, announced with great sorrow that one of his most eminent performers was sorely afflicted with a catarrh, and stood in great need of an additional supply of meat to save his life.' The joke was reported to the police; the police as 'they manage these things better in France,' - thought no joke could equal a true joke; so the wit was sent to prison, to ruminate on his witticism, and the current of Parisianism being turned ere he obtained his release, he found that the attractions of his vocal and instrumental organization had ceased, and that his cats could produce him no more than the value of their skins.
An innkeeper at Astley Chapel once sent, as a present by the carrier, to a friend at Warrington, a dog and cat tied up in a bag, who had been companions more than ten months. A short time after, the dog and cat took their departure from Warrington together, and returned to their old habitation, a distance of thirteen miles. They jogged along the road side by side, and on one occasion, the dog gallantly defended his fellow-traveller from the attack of another dog they met.
In the summer of 1766, an officer of the army having gone from Newcastle for Derby, on a recruiting party, took his dog with him; and on leaving Derby, on the 16th of August, the dog was left behind. The creature missing his master, set out for Newcastle, where he arrived on the 18th, being less than forty six hours in travelling an unknown way of one hundred and eighty miles!
M. d'Obsonville had a dog which he had brought up in India from two months old; and having to go with a friend from Pondicherry to Benglour, a distance of more than three hundred leagues, he took the animal along with him. 'Our journey,' says M. d'O., 'occupied nearly three weeks, and we had to traverse plains and mountains, and to ford rivers and go along bye-paths. The animal, which had certainly never been in that country before, lost us at Benglour, and immediately returned to Pondicherry. He went directly to the house of M. Beglier, then commandant of artillery, my friend, and with whom I had generally lived. Now the difficulty is not so much to know how the dog subsisted on the road (for he was very strong, and able to procure himself food), but how he should so well have found his way, after an interval of more than a month! This was an effort of memory greatly superior to that which the human race is capable of exerting.'
A thief, who had broken into the shop of Cellini, the Florentine artist, and was breaking open the caskets, in order to come at some jewels, was arrested in his progress by a dog, against whom he found it a difficult matter to defend himself with a sword. The faithful animal ran to the room where the journeymen slept, but as they did not seem to hear him barking, he drew away the bedclothes, and pulling them alternately by the arms, forcibly awaked them; then barking very loud, he showed the way to the thieves, and went on before, but the men would not follow him, and at last locked their door. The dog having lost all hopes of the assistance of these men, undertook the task alone, and ran downstairs; he could not find the villain in the shop, but immediately rushing into the street, came up with him, and tearing off his cloak, would have treated him according to his deserts, if the fellow had not called to some tailors in the neighbourhood, and begged they would assist him against a mad dog; the tailors believing him, came to his assistance, and compelled the poor animal to retire.
A lady had a tame bird which she was in the habit of letting out of its cage every day. One morning as it was picking crumbs of bread off the carpet, her cat, who always before showed great kindness for the bird, seized it on a sudden, and jumped with it in her mouth upon a table. The lady was much alarmed for the fate of her favourite, but on turning about instantly discerned the cause. The door had been left open, and a strange cat had just come into the room! After turning it out, her own cat came down from her place of safety, and dropped the bird without having done it the smallest injury.
When Charles V. failed in his attempt on Algiers in 1541, his fleet, and the troops which were embarked on board the ships, suffered the most dreadful hardships. The officers were obliged to throw overboard all their clothes, baggage, and valuables; but nothing distressed them so much as the parting with their horses, which were in general fine Spanish and Neapolitan genets and coursers, 'so well chosen,' says Brantome, 'so gallant spirited, and so high prized, that there was not a heart which could defend itself from feeling anguish and the deepest pity at seeing these fine horses struggling in vain to save themselves by swimming through the raging ocean. And the more distressful was the sight, as the poor animals despairing to reach the land, it being so far off, followed with their utmost powers, as long as their strength lasted, the ship and their masters, who stood on the decks, piteously lamenting the fate of these noble creatures, whom they saw perish before their eyes.'
Long Lost Found Again.
A female elephant belonging to a gentleman at Calcutta, being ordered from the upper country to Chotygone, broke loose from her keeper, and was lost in the woods. The excuses which the keeper made were not admitted. It was supposed that he had sold the elephant; his wife and family therefore were sold for slaves, and he was himself condemned to work upon the roads. About twelve years after, this man was ordered into the country to assist in catching wild elephants. The keeper fancied he saw his long-lost elephant in a group that was before them. He was determined to go up to it; nor could the strongest representations of the danger disuade him from his purpose. When he approached the creature, she knew him, and giving him three salutes, by waving her trunk in the air, knelt down and received him on her back. She afterwards assisted in securing the other elephants, and likewise brought with her three young ones, which she had produced during her absence. The keeper recovered his character; and, as a recompense for his sufferings and intrepidity, had an annuity settled on him for life. This elephant was afterwards in the possession of Governor Hastings.
A gentleman returning to town from Newington Green, where he had been on a visit to a friend, was stopped by a footpad armed with a thick bludgeon, who demanded his money, saying he was in great distress. The gentleman gave him a shilling; but this did not satisfy the fellow, who immediately attempted to strike him with his bludgeon; when, to the surprise of the gentleman, the villain's arm was suddenly arrested by a spaniel dog, who seized him fast. The fellow with some difficulty extricated himself from his enemy, and made his escape. The dog belonged to the gentleman's friend where he had dined, and had followed him unperceived; the faithful creature guarded him home, and then made the best of its way back to its master.
Friend in Need.
As a gentleman of the name of Irvine was walking across the Dee when it was frozen, the ice gave way in the middle of the river, and down he sunk, but kept himself from being carried away in the current by grasping his gun, which had fallen across the opening. A dog who attended him, after many fruitless attempts to rescue his master, ran to a neighbouring village, and took hold of the coat of the first person he met. The man was alarmed, and would have disengaged himself; but the dog regarded him with a look so kind and significant, and endeavoured to pull him along with so gentle a violence, that he began to think there might be something extraordinary in the case, and suffered himself to be conducted by the animal, who brought him to his master just in time to save his life.
Mr. Wildman, of Plymouth, who rendered himself famous in the West of England for his command over bees, being in London in 1766, visited Dr. Templeman, Secretary to the Society of Arts, in his bee dress. He went in a chair with his head and face covered with bees, and a most venerable beard of them hanging from his chin. The gentlemen and ladies assembled were soon convinced that they had no occasion to be afraid of the bees, and therefore went up familiarly to Mr. Wildman, and conversed with him. After having remained some time, he gave orders to the bees to retire to their hive, and this they did instantly.
Captain D. Carmichael, in a description of the Island of Tristan d'Acunha, communicated to the Linnaean Society, states that the animals found on this solitary spot were so tame, that it was necessary to clear a path through the birds which were reposing on the rocks, by kicking them aside. One species of seal did not move at all when struck or pelted, and at length some of the company amused themselves by mounting them, and riding them into the sea!
Mr. Purdew, surgeon's mate on board the Lancaster, in 1757, relates that while lying one evening awake he saw a rat come into his berth, and after well surveying the place, retreat with the greatest caution and silence. Soon after it returned, leading by the ear another rat, which it left at a small distance from the hole which they entered. A third rat joined this kind conductor; they then foraged about, and picked up all the small scraps of biscuit; these they carried to the second rat, which seemed blind, and remained in the spot where they had left it, nibbling such fare as its dutiful providers, whom Mr. Purdew supposes were its offspring, brought to it from the more remote parts of the floor.
Cunning as a Fox.
At a fox chase in Galloway, in the autumn of 1819, a very strong fox was closely pressed by the hounds; perceiving his danger, he made for a high wall at a short distance, and springing over, crept close under it on the other side; the hounds followed him, but no sooner had they leaped the wall, than Reynard sprang back again over it; and having thus ingeniously given his pursuers the slip, got safely away.
An American gentleman, a Mr. Hawkins, of Pittsfield, was in pursuit of foxes, accompanied by two bloodhounds; the dogs were soon in scent, and pursued a fox nearly two hours, when suddenly they appeared at fault. Mr. H. came up with them near a large log lying upon the ground, and felt much surprised to find them taking a circuit of a few rods without an object, every trace of the game seeming to have been lost, while they kept still yelping. On looking about him, he discovered sly Reynard stretched upon the log, apparently lifeless. Mr. H. made several efforts to direct the attention of his dogs towards the fox, but failed; at length he approached so near the artful object of his pursuit as to see him breathe. Even then no alarm was exhibited; and Mr. H. seizing a club, aimed a blow at him, which Reynard evaded by a leap from his singular lurking place having thus for a time effectually eluded his rapacious pursuers.
All authors before Buffon assert that the 'fretful porcupine,' when irritated, darts its quills to a considerable distance against the enemy, and that he will thus kill very large animals. This Buffon thinks a mistake, as he had repeatedly irritated the porcupine, without producing any other effect than that of some loose quills being shaken off. But Buffon's experiments were made on the Italian porcupine, an inferior species, with small and short bristles; and the evidence of subsequent writers completely establishes that with respect to the Indian porcupine, the statement of the old naturalist is quite correct. A British officer who had served in India, in an account of the climate and diversions in the Northern parts of British India C Philosophical Magazine,' vol. 42, P. 285), gives us the following account of an instance of the kind, of which he was an eye-witness:- 'Being one moonlight night with a party in search of porcupines with dogs, we had not been long out ere we discovered a hole inhabited by those quadrupeds. A dog was immediately put to it. The animal had not gone in many paces when he howled and retreated with several quills in his body. One in particular was driven an inch into his right leg. The porcupine, on the approach of the dog, drew itself into the shape of a ball, like a hedge-hog, and darting forward with all its strength, threw its quills into the dog.'
Dying of Joy.
One of the strongest instances of affection in dogs is related in the 'Memoires du Marquis Langallery.' 'The marquis had been two years in the army; when returning home, a favourite dog which he had left came to meet him in the court-yard, and recognising him as if he had only been absent two days, leaped upon his neck, and died of joy at having found him again.'
Some years ago a sparrow had early in spring taken possession of an old swallow's nest in a village in Fifeshire, and had laid some eggs in it, when the original builder and owner of the castle made her appearance, and claimed possession. The sparrow, firmly seated, resisted the claim of the swallow; a smart battle ensued, in which the swallow was joined by its mate, and during the conflict by several of their comrades. All the efforts of the assembled swallows to dislodge the usurper were, however, unsuccessful. Finding themselves completely foiled in this object, it would seem that they had held a council of war to consult on ulterior measures; and the resolution they came to shows that with no ordinary degree of ingenuity some very lofty considerations of right and justice were combined in their deliberations. Since the sparrow could not be dispossessed of the nest, the next question with them appears to have been, how he could be otherwise punished for his unlawful usurpation of a property unquestionably the legitimate right of its original constructor. The council were unanimous in thinking that nothing short of the death of the intruder could adequately atone for so heinous an offence; and having so decided, they proceeded to put their sentence into execution in the following extraordinary manner. Quitting the scene of the contest for a time, they returned with accumulated numbers, each bearing a beak full of building materials; and without any further attempt to beat out the sparrow, they instantly set to work and built up the entrance into the nest, enclosing the sparrow within the clay tenement, and leaving her to perish in the garrison she had so bravely defended.
The truth of this almost incredible story is vouched for by a gentleman of unquestionable veracity, and a most ingenious observer of nature, Mr. Gavin Inglis, of Strathendry, Bleachfield, in Fifeshire. Linnaeas had prepared us to expect as much from the ingenuity of the swallow, but he states nothing of the kind as of his own knowledge.
A Good Finder.
One day, when Dumont, a tradesman of the Rue St. Denis, was walking in the Boulevard St. Antoine with a friend, he offered to lay a wager with the latter, that if he were to hide a six livre piece in the dust, his dog would discover and bring it to him. The wager was accepted, and the piece of money secreted, after being carefully marked. When the two had proceeded some distance from the spot, M. Dumont called to his dog that he had lost something, and ordered him to seek it. Caniche immediately turned back, and his master and his companion pursued their walk to the Rue St. Denis. Meanwhile a traveller, who happened to be just then returning in a small chaise from Vincennes, perceived the piece of money which his horse had kicked from its hiding-place; he alighted, took it up, and drove to his inn, in the Rue Pont-aux-Choux. Caniche had just reached the spot in search of the lost piece, when the stranger picked it up. He followed the chaise, went into the inn, and stuck close to the traveller. Having scented out the coin which he had been ordered to bring back in the pocket of the latter, he leaped up incessantly at and about him. The traveller supposing him to be some dog that had lost or been left behind by his master, regarded his different movements as marks of fondness: and as the animal was handsome, he determined to keep him. He gave him a good supper, and on retiring to bed, took him with him to his chamber. No sooner had he pulled off his breeches, than they were seized by the dog; the owner, conceiving that he wanted to play with them, took them away again. The animal began to bark at the door, which the traveller opened, under the idea that the dog wanted to go out. Caniche snatched up the breeches and away he flew. The traveller posted after him with his nightcap on, and literally sans culottes. Anxiety for the fate of a purse full of gold Napoleons, of forty francs each, which was in one of the pockets, gave redoubled velocity to his steps. Caniche ran full speed to his master's house, where the stranger arrived a moment afterwards, breathless and enraged. He accused the dog of robbing him. 'Sir,' said the master, 'my dog is a very faithful creature; and if he has run away with your breeches, it is because you have in them money which does not belong to you.' The traveller became still more exasperated. 'Compose yourself, sir,' rejoined the other, smiling, 'without doubt there is in your purse a six livre piece, with such and such marks, which you have picked up in the Boulevard St. Antoine, and which I threw down there with the firm conviction that my dog would bring it back again. This is the cause of the robbery which he has committed upon you.' The stranger's rage now yielded to astonishment; he delivered the six livre piece to the owner, and could not forbear caressing the dog which had given him so much uneasiness, and such an unpleasant chase.
Seals have a very delicate sense of hearing, and are much delighted with 'Music. The fact was not unknown to the ancient poets, and is thus alluded to by Walter Scott:
'Rude Heiskar's seals, through surges dark,
Will long pursue the minstrel's bark.'
Mr. John Laing, in his account of a voyage to Spitzbergen, mentions, that the captain of the ship's son, who was fond of playing on the violin, never failed to have a numerous auditory when in the seas frequented by these animals; and Mr. L. has seen them follow the ship for miles when any person was playing on deck.
Feeding the Orphan.
'In June, 1816, some young gentlemen disappointed in duck shooting, fired a few rounds for their amusement at a flock of swallows, and unfortunately brought some of the parent swallows to the ground, and among the rest, both parents of a young brood of five, whose nest was in the corner of one of the windows of Mr. Gavin Inglis's house, at Strathendry. Conceiving the young would perish from hunger, Mr. I. resolved to take them into the house, and try to bring them up under the care of his children, who had undertaken to catch flies for them. This humane interposition was however found unnecessary; the news of the calamity had spread over the colony, and a collection of parent-swallows had assembled. The state of the nest and the young was taken under review, and arrangements were immediately gone into for the protection and support of the helpless orphans. A supply of provisions was brought them before leaving them for the night; and next day, and every day for some time after, the benevolent office of feeding them was carried on with so much parental care by the older swallows in succession, that the orphan group were as regularly fed, and as soon fledged and on the wing, as the young of any nest in the whole colony.
A Sly Couple.
A gentleman in the county of Stirling kept a greyhound and a pointer, and being fond of coursing, the pointer was accustomed to find the hares, and the greyhound to catch them. When the season was over, it was found that the dogs were in the habit of going out by themselves, and killing hares for their own amusement. To prevent this, a large iron ring was fastened to the pointer's neck by a leather collar, and hung down so as to prevent the dog from running, or jumping over dikes, &c. The animals, however, continued to stroll out to the fields together; and one day the gentleman suspecting that all was not right, resolved to watch them, and to his surprise, found that the moment when they thought that they were unobserved, the greyhound took up the iron ring in his mouth, and carrying it, they set off to the hills, and began to search for hares as usual. They were followed, and it was observed, that whenever the pointer scented the hare, the ring was dropped, and the greyhound stood ready to pounce upon poor puss the moment the other drove her from her form, but that he uniformly returned to assist his companion after he had caught his prey.
The Hottentots in Southern Africa are remarkable for their skill in observing the bees, as they fly to their nests, but they have still a much better guide than their own acuteness, on which they invariably rely. This is a small brownish bird, nothing remarkable in its appearance, of the cuckoo genus, to which naturalists have given the specific name of the Indicator, from its pointing out and discovering, by a chirping and whistling noise, the nests of bees; it is called by the farmers the honey-bird.
In the conduct of this little animal there is something that looks very like what philosophers have been pleased to deny the brute creation. Having observed a nest of honey, it flies in search of some human creature, to whom, by its fluttering, whistling, and chirping, it communicates the discovery. Every Hottentot is too well acquainted with the bird to have any doubts as to the certainty of the information. It leads the way directly to the place, flying from bush to bush, or from one ant-hill to another. When close to the nest, it remains still and silent. As soon as the person to whom the discovery is made has taken away the honey, the Indicator flies to feast on the remains. By the like conduct it is also said to indicate with equal certainty the dens of lions, tigers, and hyaenas, and other beasts of prey, and noxious animals. In the discovery of a bee's nest, self-interest is concerned; but in the latter instance its motives must proceed from a different principle.
Sense of Ridicule.
Persons who have the management of elephants, have often observed that they know very well when any one is ridiculing them, and that they very often revenge themselves when they have an opportunity. A painter wished to draw an elephant in the menagerie at Paris in an extraordinary attitude, which was with his trunk lifted up, and his mouth open. An attendant on the painter, to make the elephant preserve the position, threw fruits in his mouth, and often pretended to throw them without doing so. The animal became irritated, and as if knowing that the painter was to blame rather than his servant, turned to him, and dashed a quantity of water from his trunk over the paper on which the painter was sketching his distorted portrait.
While the Carcass, one of the ships in Captain Phipps' voyage of discovery to the North Pole, was locked in the ice, early one morning the man at the mast-head gave notice that three bears were making their way very fast over the frozen ocean, and were directing their course towards the ship. They had no doubt been invited by the scent of some blubber of a sea-horse, which the crew had killed a few days before, which had been set on fire, and was burning on the ice at the time of their approach. They proved to be a she bear and her two cubs; but the cubs were nearly as large as the dam. They ran eagerly to the fire, and drew out from the flames part of the flesh of the sea-horse that remained unconsumed, and eat it voraciously. The crew of the ship threw great lumps of the flesh of the sea-horse which they had still left, upon the ice, which the old bear fetched away singly, laying every lump before the cubs as she brought it, and dividing it, gave each a share, reserving but a small portion to herself. As she was fetching away the last piece, they levelled their muskets at the cubs, and shot them both dead, and in her retreat they wounded the dam, but not mortally. It would have drawn tears of pity from any but the most unfeeling, to have marked the affectionate concern expressed by this poor animal. in the dying moments of her expiring young. Though she was sorely wounded, and could but just crawl to the place where they lay, she carried the lump of flesh she had just fetched away, as she had done the others, tore it in pieces, and laid it down before them; when she saw that they refused to eat, she laid her paws first upon one, then upon the other, and endeavoured to raise them up, making at the same time, the most pitiable moans. Finding she could not stir them, she went off, and when she had got at some distance, looked back and moaned; and that not availing to entice them away, she returned, and smelling round them, began to lick their wounds. She went off a second time, as before, and having crawled a few paces, looked again behind her, and for some time stood moaning. But still her cubs not rising to follow her, she returned to them anew, and with signs of inexpressible fondness went round them, pawing them successively. Finding at last that they were cold and lifeless, she raised her head towards the ship, and growled a curse upon the destroyers, which they returned with a volley of musket balls. She fell between her cubs, and died licking their wounds.
Many years ago, a Mr. Scot, of Benholm near Montrose, had accidentally caught a sea-gull, whose wings he cut, and put it into his garden. The bird remained in that situation for several years, and being kindly treated, became so familiar, as to come at call to be fed at the kitchen door. It was known by the name of Willie. This bird became at last so tame that no pains were taken to preserve it, and its wings having grown to full length, it flew away, joined the other gulls on the beach, and came back, from time to time, to pay a visit to the house. When its companions left the country at the usual season. Willie accompanied them, much to the regret of the family. To their great joy, however, it returned next season; and with its usual familiarity came to its old haunt, where it was welcomed and fed very liberally. In this way it went and returned for forty years, without intermission, and kept up its acquaintance in the most cordial manner; for while in the country it visited them almost daily, answered to its name like any domestic animal, and eat almost out of the hand. One year, however, very near the period of it's final disappearance, Willie did not pay his respects to the family for eight or ten days after the general flock of gulls were upon the coast, and great was the lamentation for his loss, as it was feared he was dead: but to the surprise and joy of the family, a servant one morning came running into the breakfast-room in ecstasy, announcing that Willie was returned. The whole company rose from the table to welcome Willie. Food was soon supplied in abundance, and Willie with his usual frankness eat of it heartily, and was as tame as any barn-yard fowl about the house. In a year or two afterwards this grateful bird discontinued his visits for ever.
Effect of Colours.
Mr. Forbes, the author of the 'Oriental Memoirs,' when at Dazagan in Concan, kept a cameleon for several weeks. The animal was singularly affected by anything black. The skirting-board of the room was black, and the creature carefully avoided it; but if by chance he came near it, or if a black hat were placed in his way, he shrunk and became black as jet. It was evident by the care he took to avoid those objects which occasioned this change, that the effort was painful to him; the colour seemed to operate like a poison. From some antipathy of the same sort, the buffalo and the bull are enraged by scarlet, which, according to the blind man's notion, acts upon them like the sound of a trumpet; and the viper is most provoked to bite when the viper-catcher presents it with a red rag. There are other animals to whom certain colours have the effect of fascination. Daffodils, or any bright yellow flowers, will decoy perch into a draw-net. Persons who wear black hats in summer are ten times more annoyed by flies than those who wear white ones. Such facts are highly curious, and well deserving of investigation. We know as yet but little of the manner in which animals are affected by colours, and that little is only known popularly. When more observations of this kind have been made and classified, they may lead to some consequences of practical utility.
The first mention we find made of the employment of pigeons as letter carriers is by Ovid, in his 'Metamorphoses,' who tells us that Taurosthenes, by a pigeon stained with purple, gave notice of his having been victor at the Olympic games on the very same day to his father at AEgina.
Pliny informs us that during the siege of Modena by Marc Antony, pigeons were employed by Brutus to keep up a correspondence with the besieged.
When the city of Ptolemais, in Syria, was invested by the French and Venetians, and it was ready to fall into their hands, they observed a pigeon flying over them, and immediately conjectured that it was charged with letters to the garrison. On this, the whole army raising a loud shout, so confounded the poor aerial post that it fell to the ground, and on being seized, a letter was found under its wings, from the sultan, in which he assured the garrison that 'he would be with them in three days, with an army sufficient to raise the siege.' For this letter the besiegers substituted another to this purpose, 'that the garrison must see to their own safety, for the sultan had such other affairs pressing him that it was impossible for him to come to their succour; and with this false intelligence they let the pigeon free to pursue his course. The garrison, deprived by this decree of all hope of relief, immediately surrendered. The sultan appeared on the third day, as promised, with a powerful army, and was not a little mortified to find the city already in the hands of the Christians.
Carrier pigeons were again employed, but with better success, at the siege of Leyden, in 1675. The garrison were, by means of the information thus conveyed to them, induced to stand out, till the enemy, despairing of reducing the place, withdrew. On the siege being raised, the Prince of Orange ordered that the pigeons who had rendered such essential service should be maintained at the public expense, and that at their death they should be embalmed and preserved in the town house, as a perpetual token of gratitude.
In the East the employment of pigeons for the conveyance of letters is still very common; particularly in Syria, Arabia, and Egypt. Every bashaw has generally a basket full of them sent him from the grand seraglio, where they are bred, and in case of any insurrection, or other emergency, he is enabled, by letting loose two or more of these extraordinary messengers, to convey intelligence to the government long before it could be possibly obtained by other means.
In Flanders great encouragement is also still given to the training of pigeons; and at Antwerp there is an annual competition of the society of pigeon fanciers.
In the United States they have been also recently employed, with very nefarious success, by a set of lottery gamblers. The numbers of the tickets drawn at Philadelphia were known by this mode of conveyance within so inconceivably short a period at New York, or if drawn at New York, known at Philadelphia, and so with other towns, that the greatest frauds were committed on the public by those in possession of this secret means of intelligence.
In England the use of carrier pigeons is at present wholly confined to the gentlemen of the fancy, who inherited it from the heroes of Tyburn, with whom it was of old a favourite practice to let loose a number of pigeons at the moment the fatal cart was drawn away, to notify to distant friends the departure of the unhappy criminal.
The diligence and speed with which these feathered messengers wing their course is extraordinary. From the instant of their liberation their flight is directed through the clouds at an immense height to the place of their destination. They are believed to dart onwards in a straight line, and never descend except when at a loss for breath, and then are to be seen, commonly at dawn of day, lying on their backs on the ground, with their bills open, sucking in with hasty avidity the dew of the morning. Of their speed, the instances related are almost incredible.
The Consul of Alexandria daily sends despatches by this means to Aleppo in five hours, though couriers occupy the whole day in proceeding with the utmost expedition from one town to the other.
Some years ago a gentleman sent a carrier pigeon from London, by the stage coach, to his friend at Bury St. Edmund's, together with a note, desiring that the pigeon, two days after its arrival there, might be thrown up precisely when the town clock struck nine in the morning. This was done accordingly, and the pigeon arrived in London, and flew to the Bull Inn, in Bishopsgate Street, into the loft, and was there shown at half an hour past eleven o'clock, having flown seventy-two miles in two hours and a half. At the annual competition of the Antwerp pigeon fanciers, in 1819, one of thirty-two pigeons belonging to that city, who had been conveyed to London, and there let loose, made the transit back, being a distance in a direct line of one hundred and eighty miles, in six hours!
It is through the attachment of these animals to the place of their birth, and particularly to the spot where they have brought up their young, that they are thus rendered useful to mankind.
When a young one flies very hard at home, and is come to its full strength, it is carried in a basket or otherwise about half a mile from home, and there turned out; after this, it is carried a mile, then two, four, eight, ten, twenty, &c., till at length it will return from the furthermost parts of the country.
The Baya, or Grossbeak, so very common in Hindostan, is rather larger than a sparrow.
It is, says Sir William Jones, 'astonishingly sensible, faithful, and docile, never voluntarily deserting the place where its young were hatched; but not averse, like most other birds, to the society of mankind, and easily taught to perch on the hand of its master. It may be taught with ease to fetch a piece of paper, or any small thing that its master points out; and it is an attested fact that if a ring be dropped into a deep well, and a signal be instantaneously given, it will fly down with amazing celerity, catch the ring before it touches the water, and bring it up to its master with apparent exultation. It is also confidently asserted that if a house or any other place be shown to it one or twice, it will carry a note thither immediately on the proper signal being made.'
One instance of its docility, Sir William Jones was an eye-witness of. The young Hindu women, at Benares and other places, wear very thin plates of gold, called ticas, slightly fixed, by way of ornament, between their eyebrows; and when they pass through the streets, it is not uncommon for the youthful libertines, who amuse themselves with training Bayas, to give them a signal, which they understand, and send them to pluck the pieces of gold from the foreheads of their mistresses, which they bring in triumph to their lovers.
The Pig Pointer.
The race of swine, though generally so stupid as to have furnished an odious cant appellation for the multitude of our own species, is by no means destitute of sagacity; but the shortness of life to which we generally doom them, unfortunately precludes all improvement in this respect. In proof of their intellectual endowments, it might be sufficient to recite the numerous instances of learned pigs with which the exhibitions of every country fair are familiar; but an instance more truly surprising than these, was that of the black New Forest sow, which was broke in by Tumor, the gamekeeper to Sir H. St. John Mildmay, to find game, back, and stand nearly as well as a pointer.
This sow, which was a thin, long-legged animal (one of the ugliest of the New Forestbreed), when very young, conceived so great a partiality to some pointer puppies that Tumor was breaking, that it played, and often came to feed with them. From this circumstance it occurred to Tumor (to use his own expression) that, having broke many a dog as obstinate as a pig, he would try if he could not also succeed in breaking a pig. The little animal would often go out with the puppies to some distance from home; and he enticed it farther by a sort of pudding made of barleymeal, which he carried in one of his pockets. The other he filled with stones, which he threw at the pig whenever she misbehaved, as he was not able to catch and correct her in the same manner he did his dogs. He informed Sir Henry Mildmay, that he found the animal tractable, and that he soon taught her what he wished by this mode of reward and punishment. Sir Henry Mildmay says, that he has frequently seen her out with Tumor, when she quartered her ground as regularly as any pointer, stood when she came on game (having an excellent nose), and backed other dogs as well as he ever saw a pointer. When she came on the cold scent of game, she slackened her trot, and gradually dropped her ears and tail, till she was certain, and then fell down on her knees. So staunch was she, that she would frequently remain five minutes and upwards on her point. As soon as the game rose, she always returned to Tumor, grunting very loudly for her reward of pudding, if it was not immediately given to her.
When Tumor died, his widow sent the pig to Sir Henry Mildmay, who kept it for three years, but never used it, except for the purpose of occasionally amusing his friends. In doing this, a fowl was put into a cabbage-net, and hidden amongst the fern in some part of the park, and the extraordinary animal never failed to point it, in the manner above described.
Filial Tenderness and Address.
A cat belonging to Mr. Stevens, of the Red Lion Hotel in Truro, during the period of her gestation was conveyed to a barn, near the turnpike-gate, on the Michell road. The time of her accouchement being arrived, puss became the mother of four fine sprawling kittens! To her unspeakable grief, three of her young ones suffered a watery death the next morning, without ever opening their eyes on this sorrowful world. The authors of this melancholy catastrophe, on going to the barn on the following day, found no traces either of the mother or her remaining young one. They called, but all was silent; they searched, but tabby was invisible. Here the matter rested for several days, when at length, early in the morning, puss made her appearance in the court of her master's house in a very slender condition. Having satisfied her hunger, and loitered about the house during the day, late at night she took her leave, carrying with her all the provisions which she conveniently could. For several days she repeated the same course of operations, regularly returning to the hotel in the morning, and leaving it not empty-mouthed at night. Her proceedings having excited attention, she was followed in one of her nocturnal retreats, not to the barn from which two of her young ones had been so cruelly taken to be drowned, but to the top of a wheaten mowhay, at some distance. On beating up her quarters there, she was discovered feeding her surviving kitten, which had by this time become plump and sleek, but was as wild as a young tiger, and would not be touched by any one. The hole which the mother-cat had made in the mowhay, to afford a passage and retreat to her young one, was peculiarly curious.
A few days afterwards the mother finding, perhaps, that her own daily journeys were too fatiguing; or thinking it necessary that her young one should be introduced to the world, in order to rub off the rust of its clownish education; or what is as likely, feeling assured that the kitten had attained an age which would save it from sharing the fate of its departed relatives, she took advantage of a dark and silent night, when worrying dogs and boys were within doors, to convey it to Truro, where we need not say grimalkin and the young stranger found a hospitable welcome.
The Reading Eagle, a Pennsylvanian paper of the year 1820, relates the following extraordinary incident:- A daughter of Mr. Daniel Strohecker, near Orwigsburgh, Berks, county Pennsylvania, about three years of age, was observed for a number of days to go to a considerable distance from the house with a piece of bread which she obtained from her mother. The circumstance attracted the attention of the mother, who desired Mr. S. to follow the child, and observe what she did with it. On coming to the child, he found her engaged in feeding several snakes, called yellow heads, or bastard rattlesnakes. He immediately took it away, and proceeded to the house for his gun, and returning, killed two of them at one shot, and another a few days after. The child called these reptiles in the manner of calling chickens; and when its father observed, if it continued the practice they would bite her, she child replied, 'No, father, they wont bite me; they only eat the bread I give them.'
A large and ferocious mastiff which had broke his chain, ran along the road near Bath, to the great terror and consternation of those whom he passed; when suddenly running by a most interesting boy, the child struck him with a stick, upon which the dog turned furiously on his infant assailant. The little fellow, so far from being intimidated, ran up to him, and flung his arms round the neck of the enraged animal, which became instantly appeased, and in return, caressed the child.
A gentleman in the neighbourhood of Burnt Island, in Fifeshire, has completely succeeded in taming a seal. It appears to possess all the sagacity of the dog, lives in his master's house, and eats from his hand. He usually takes it with him in his fishing excursions, upon which occasion it affords no small entertainment. When thrown into the water, it will follow for miles the track of the boat, and although thrust back by the oars, it never relinquishes its purpose. Indeed, it struggles so hard to regain its seat, that one would imagine its fondness for its master had entirely overcome the natural predilection for its native element.
Captain Steadman in his 'Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam,' relates, that on waking about four o'clock one morning in his hammock, he was extremely alarmed at finding himself weltering in congealed blood, and without feeling any pain whatever. 'The mystery was,' continues Captain S. 'that I had been bitten by the Vampyre or Spectre of Guiana, which is also called the Flying Dog of New Spain, and by the Spaniards, Perro Volador. This is no other than a bat of monstrous size, that sucks the blood from men and cattle while they are fast asleep, even sometimes till they die; and as the manner in which they proceed is truly wonderful, I shall endeavour to give a distinct account of it. Knowing, by instinct, that the person they intend to attack is in a sound slumber, they generally alight near the feet, where, while the creature continues fanning with his enormous wings, which keeps one cool, he bites a piece out of the tip of the great toe, so very small indeed, that the head of a pin could scarcely be received into the wound, which is consequently not painful; yet through this orifice he continues to suck the blood, until he is obliged to disgorge. He then begins again, and thus continues sucking and disgorging until he is scarcely able to fly; and the sufferer has often been known to sleep from time to eternity. Cattle they generally bite in the ear, but always in places where the blood flows spontaneously. Having applied tobacco ashes as the best remedy, and washed the gore from myself and hammock, I observed several small heaps of congealed blood all round the place where I had lain upon the ground: on examining which, the surgeon judged that I had lost at least twelve or fourteen ounces during the night.'
In the park of Lord Grantley at Wonersh, near Guildford, a fawn, drinking, was suddenly pounced upon by one of the swans, which pulled the animal into the water, and held it under until quite drowned. The atrocious action was observed by the other deer in the park, and did not long go unrevenged; for shortly after this very swan, which had hitherto never been molested by the deer, was singled out when on land, and furiously attacked by a herd, which surrounded and presently killed the offender.
In the year 1783, a pair of strange rooks, after an unsuccessful attempt to effect a lodgment in a rookery at a little distance from the Exchange in Newcastle, were compelled to abandon the attempt, and to take refuge on the spire of that building; and although constantly molested by other rooks, they built their nest on the top of the vane, and there reared a brood of young ones, undisturbed by the noise of the populace below them. The nest and its inmates were of course turned about by every change of the wind. Every year they continued to build their nest in the same place, till the year 1793, soon after which the spire was taken down. A small engraving was made, of the size of a watch paper, representing the top of the spire and the rook's nest; a great many copies of it were sold, and some are still to be met with among the inhabitants of Newcastle.
Cat and Crows.
In the spring Of 1791, a pair of crows made their nest in a tree, of which there were several planted round the garden of a gentleman, who, in his morning walks, was often amused by witnessing furious combats between the crows and a cat. One morning the battle raged more fiercely than usual, till at last the cat gave way, and took shelter under a hedge, as if to wait a more favourable opportunity of retreating into the house. The crows continued for a short time to make a threatening noise; but perceiving that on the ground they could do nothing more than threaten, one of them lifted a stone from the middle of the garden, and perched with it on a tree planted in the hedge, where she sat, watching the motions of the enemy of her young. As the cat crept along under the hedge, the crow accompanied her, flying from branch to branch, and from tree to tree; and when at last puss ventured to quit her hiding place, the crow, leaving the trees and hovering over her in the air. let the stone drop from on high on her back.
Another instance of the sagacity of the crow, is related by Dr. Darwin. A friend of his on the northern coast of Ireland, saw above a hundred crows at once preying upon mussels; each crow took a mussel up into the air thirty or forty yards high, and then let it fall upon the stones, and thus by breaking the shell, got possession of the animal.
A gentleman of Brenchley having shot a hen-swallow which was skimming in the air, accompanied by her mate, the enraged partner immediately flew at the fowler, and, as if to revenge the loss it had sustained, struck him in the face with its wing, and continued flying around him with every appearance of determined anger. For several weeks after the fatal shot, the bird continued to annoy the gentleman whenever it met with him, except on Sundays, when it did not recognise him, in consequence of his change of dress.
Heroism of the Hen.
In June, 1820, a contest of rather an unusual nature took place in the house of Mr. Collins, a respectable innkeeper, at Naul in Ireland. The parties concerned were, a hen of the game species, and a rat of the middle size. The hen, in an accidental perambulation round a spacious room, accompanied by an only chicken, the sole surviving offspring of a numerous brood, was roused to madness by an unprovoked attack made by a voracious cowardly rat, on her unsuspecting chirping companion. The shrieks of the beloved captive, while dragging away by the enemy, excited every maternal feeling in the affectionate bosom of the feathered dame; she flew at the corner whence the alarm arose, seized the lurking enemy by the neck, writhed him about the room, put out one of his eyes in the engagement, and so fatigued her opponent by repeated attacks of spur and bill, that in the space of twelve minutes, during which time the conflict lasted, she put a final period to the nocturnal invader's existence; nimbly turned round, in wild but triumphant distraction, to her palpitating nestling, and hugged it in her victorious bosom.
At Dunrobin Castle, in Sutherlandshire, the seat of the Marquess of Stafford, there was, in May, 1820, to be seen, a terrier bitch nursing a brood of ducklings. She had had a litter of whelps a few weeks before, which were taken from her and drowned. The unfortunate mother was quite disconsolate, till she perceived the brood of ducklings, which she immediately seized and carried to her lair, where she retained them, following them out and in with the greatest care, and nursing them after her own fashion, with the most affectionate anxiety. When the ducklings, following their natural instinct, went into the water, their foster-mother exhibited the utmost alarm; and as soon as they returned to land, she snatched them up in her mouth, and ran home with them. What adds to the singularity of this circumstance is, that the same animal, when deprived of a litter of puppies the year preceding, seized two cock-chickens, which she reared with the like care she bestows upon her present family. When the young cocks began to try their voices, their foster-mother was as much annoyed as she now seems to be by the swimming of the ducklings - and never failed to repress their attempts at crowing.
A pigeon, twelve years old, belonging to an inn-keeper at Cheltenham, was a few years ago deserted by his partner, after having had a numerous progeny by her. He took the loss much to heart, but made no attempt to supply her place by a new alliance. Two years passed away in a state of widowed solitude, when at last the faithless fair one returned, and wished to be restored to all her conjugal rights. Her injured lord and master was for a time inexorable; he repelled all her approaches, and when she became importunate, gave her a sound beating. In the dead of night, however, Master Pigeon's curtains not being more secure than those of Priam, the lady contrived to make her quarters good. When the day dawned, matters were so far made up, that it was agreed Madam Dove should at least have shelter in his cot during the remainder of her days; but the days of the repentant guilty are seldom long, and a few short months saw her consigned to the tomb. The old pigeon, as if sensible that death, by for ever dissolving the connexion, had placed him in a state of liberty which her voluntary desertion had not, instantly took wing, and in an hour or two returned with a new partner!
A lady walking over Lansdown, near Bath, was overtaken by a large dog, which had left two men who were travelling the same road with a horse and cart, and followed by the animal for some distance, the creature endeavouring to make her sensible of something, by looking in her face, and then pointing with his nose behind. Failing in his object, he next placed himself so completely in front of the object of his solicitude, as to prevent her proceeding any farther, still looking steadfastly in her face. The lady became rather alarmed; but judging from the manner of the dog, who did not appear vicious, that there was something about her which engaged his attention, she examined her dress, and found that her lace shawl was gone. The dog, perceiving that he was at length understood, immediately turned back; the lady followed him, and he conducted her to the spot where her shawl lay, some distance back in the road. On her taking it up, and replacing it on her person, the interesting quadruped instantly ran off at full speed after his master, apparently much delighted.
The Shepherd's Dog.
The celebrated shepherd poet, to whom these ANECDOTES OF INSTINCT are inscribed, had a dog named Sirrah, who was for many years his sole companion in those mountain solitudes, where, far from the haunts of men, he nursed that imagination which has since burst forth with such splendour on the world. 'He was,' quoth the shepherd, 'beyond all comparison, the best dog I ever saw. He was of a surly, unsocial temper, disdaining all flattery, and refused to be caressed; but his attention to his master's commands and interests, will never again be equalled by any of the canine race. The first time that I saw him, a drover was leading him in a rope; he was hungry and lean, and far from being a beautiful cur, for he was almost all over black, and had a grim face, striped with dark brown. The man had bought him of a boy for three shillings somewhere on the border, and doubtless had fed him very ill on his journey. I thought I discovered a sort of sullen intelligence in his face, notwithstanding his dejected and forlorn situation; so I gave the drover a guinea for him, and appropriated the captive to myself. I believe there never was a guinea so well laid out; at least I am satisfied that I never laid out one to so good a purpose. He was scarcely then a year old, and knew so little of herding, that he had never turned a sheep in his life; but as soon as he discovered that it was his duty to do so, and that it obliged me, I can never forget with what anxiety and eagerness he learned his different evolutions. He would try every way deliberately till he found out what I wanted him to do; and when once I made him to understand a direction, he never forgot or mistook it again. Well as I knew him, he often astonished me, for when hard pressed in accomplishing the task he was put to, he had expedients of the moment that bespoke a great share of the reasoning faculty.'
Mr. Hogg goes on to narrate the following among other remarkable exploits, in illustration of Sirrah's sagacity. About seven hundred lambs, which were at once under his care at weaning time, broke up at midnight, and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that the shepherd and an assistant lad could do to keep them together. 'Sirrah,' cried the shepherd in great affliction, 'my man, they're a' awa.' The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the faithful animal had heard his master's words, words such as of all others were sure to set him most on the alert; and without more ado he silently set off in quest of the recreant flock. Meanwhile the shepherd and his companion did not fail to do all that was in their power to recover their lost charge; they spent the whole night in scouring the hills for miles around, but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could they obtain the slightest trace.' It was the most extraordinary circumstance, says the shepherd, 'that had ever occurred in the annals of the pastoral life. We had nothing for it (day having dawned), but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock of lambs, and knew not what was become of one of them. On our way home, however, we discovered a body of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, called the Flesh Clench, and the indefatigable Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief, but still standing true to his charge. The sun was then up; and when we first came in view of them, we concluded that it was one of the divisions of the lambs which Sirrah had been unable to manage until he came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment, when we discovered by degrees that not one lamb of the whole flock was wanting! How he had got all the divisions collected in the dark, is beyond my comprehension. The charge was left entirely to himself, from midnight until the rising of the sun; and if all the shepherds in the forest had been there to have assisted him, they could not have effected it with greater propriety. All that I can further say is, that I never felt so grateful to any creature below the sun, as I did to my honest Sirrah that morning.'
The dance of animals, as we have already seen, was not unknown to antiquity; dogs, bears, apes, elephants, &c., were admitted into their corps de ballet; but horses exceeded all the rest in the gracefulness of their steps and the docility of their tempers. Pliny informs us that the Sybarites, whom we have surpassed in this, if in nothing else, were the first who associated this tractable quadruped to their ball. The passion of this people for amusement, however, proved fatal to them on this occasion, for the Crotonitae having instructed their trumpeters to sound the usual charge in a pitched battle between the armies of these two nations, the horses of the latter fell to dancing, instead of advancing to the charge, and were with their riders cut in pieces.
Pere Carbasson brought up an ourangoutang, which became so fond of him that, wherever he went, it was always desirous of accompanying him. Whenever therefore he had to perform the service of his church, he was under the necessity of shutting it up in his room. Once, however, the animal escaped, and followed the father to the church; where silently mounting the sounding board above the pulpit, he lay perfectly still till the sermon commenced. He then crept to the edge, and overlooking the preacher, imitated all his gestures in so grotesque a manner, that the whole congregation were unavoidably urged to laugh. The father, surprised and confounded at this ill-timed levity, severely rebuked his audience for their inattention. The reproof failed in its effect; the congregation still laughed, and the preacher in the warmth of his zeal redoubled his vociferation and his action; these the ape imitated so exactly that the congregation could no longer restrain themselves, but burst out into a loud and continued laughter. A friend of the preacher at length stepped up to him, and pointed out the cause of this improper conduct; and such was the arch demeanour of the animal that it was with the utmost difficulty he could himself command his gravity, while he ordered the servants of the church to take him away.
Mr. Locke, in his 'Essay on the Human Understanding,' quotes the following anecdote of a parrot from the 'Remains of what passed in Christendom from 1672 to 1679,' in a manner which shows that, however incredible, he at least believed in it. During the government of Prince Maurice in Brazil, he had heard of an old parrot that was much celebrated for answering like a rational creature many of the common questions put to it. It was at a great distance; but so much had been said about it that the prince's curiosity was roused, and he directed it to be sent for. When it was introduced into the room where the prince was sitting, in company with several Dutchmen, it immediately exclaimed in the Brazilian language, 'What a company of white men are here!' They asked it, 'Who is that man?' (pointing to the prince). The parrot answered, 'Some general or other.'
When the attendants carried it up to him, he asked it, through the medium of an interpreter (for he was ignorant of its language), 'Whence do you come?' The parrot answered, 'From Marignan.' The prince asked, 'To whom do you belong?' It answered, 'To a Portuguese.' He asked again, 'What do you there?' It answered, ' I look after chickens.' The prince laughing, exclaimed, 'You look after chickens.' The parrot in answer said, 'Yes, I; and I know well enough how to do it;' clucking at the same time in imitation of the noise made by the hen to call together her young.
The author of the memoirs in which this account is contained, says that he had it directly from Prince Maurice, who observed, that though the parrot spoke in a language he did not understand, yet he could not be deceived, for he had in the room both a Dutchman who spoke Brazilian, and a Brazilian who spoke Dutch; that he asked them separately and privately, and both agreed exactly in their account of the parrot's discourse.
Colonel O'Kelly's Parrot.
In the London newspapers for October, 1802, there was the following announcement:- 'A few days ago died, in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, the celebrated parrot of Colonel O'Kelly. This singular bird sang a number of songs in perfect time and tune. She could express her wants articulately, and give her orders in a manner nearly approaching to rationality. Her age was not known; it was, however, more than thirty years, for previously to that period Mr. O'Kelly bought her at Bristol for a hundred guineas. The colonel was repeatedly offered five hundred guineas a year for the bird, by persons who wished to make a public exhibition of her; but this, out of tenderness to the favourite, he constantly refused.' She could not only repeat a great number of sentences, but answer questions put to her. When singing, she beat time with all the appearance of science; and her judgment was so accurate that if by chance she mistook a note, she would revert to the bar where the mistake was made, correct herself, and still beating regular time, go through the whole with wonderful exactness.
In the autumn of 1817, a complaint was made at Hatton-garden police-office by two ladies, who stated that they had been robbed in the following singular manner:- While walking near Battle-bridge, about six o'clock in the evening, a dog, unaccompanied by any person, sprung suddenly from the roadside, and seizing hold of the reticule which one of the ladies had in her hand, forcibly snatched it from her, and turning off the road, made his escape.
A constable stated that a dog answering the same description had also robbed a poor woman of a bundle containing two shirts, some handkerchiefs, &c., with which he got clear off. Several other instances of a similar nature were mentioned, and the general conclusion was that the animal had been trained up to the business, and that his master was in waiting at no great distance to receive the fruits of the canine plunderer.
Chinese Fishing Birds.
The most extraordinary mode of fishing in China, and which is peculiar to it, is by birds trained for that purpose. Falcons when employed in the air, or hounds when following a scent on the earth, are not more sagacious in the pursuit of their prey, or more certain in obtaining it, than these birds in another element. They are called Looau, and are about the size of a goose, with grey plumage, webbed feet, and have a long and very slender bill, crooked at the point. Their faculty of diving, or remaining under water, is not more extraordinary than that of many other fowls that prey upon fish; but the wonderful circumstance is the docility of these birds, in employing their natural instinctive powers at the command of the fishermen who possess them, in the same manner as the hound, the spaniel, or the pointer, submit their respective sagacity to the huntsman or the fowler.
The number of these birds in a boat is proportioned to the size of it. At a certain signal, they rush into the water and dive after the fish; and the moment they have seized their prey, they fly with it to their boat; and though there may be a hundred of these vessels together, the sagacious birds always return to their own masters; and amidst the crowd of fishing junks which are sometimes assembled on these occasions, they never fail to distinguish that to which they belong. When the fish are in great plenty, these astonishing purveyors will soon fill a boat with them; and will sometimes be seen flying along with a fish of such size, as to make the beholder who is unaccustomed to the sight suspect his organs of vision; and such is their extraordinary sagacity, that when one of them happens to have taken a fish which is too bulky for the management of a single fowl, the rest immediately afford their assistance. While they are thus labouring for their masters, they are prevented from paying any attention to themselves, by a ring which is passed round their necks; and is so contrived as to frustrate any attempt to swallow the least morsel of what they take.
Constancy of Affection.
A gentleman who had a dog of a most endearing disposition, was obliged to go a journey periodically once a month. His stay was short, and his departure and return very regular, and without variation. The dog always grew uneasy when he first lost his master, and moped in a corner, but recovered himself gradually as the time for his return approached; which he knew to an hour, nay, to a minute. When he was convinced that his master was on the road, at no great distance from home, he flew all over the house, and if the street door happened to be shut, he would suffer no servant to have any rest until it was opened. The moment he obtained his freedom, away he went, and to a certainty met his benefactor about two miles from town. He played and frolicked about him till he had obtained one of his gloves, with which he ran or rather flew home, entered the house, laid it down in the middle of the room, and danced round it. When he had sufficiently amused himself in this manner, out of the house he flew, returned to meet his master, and ran before him, or gamboled by his side, till he arrived with him at home. I know not (says Mr. Dibdin, who relates this anecdote) how frequently this was repeated, but it lasted till the old gentleman grew infirm and incapable of continuing his journeys. The dog by this time, was also grown old, and became at length blind; but this misfortune did not hinder him from fondling his master, whom he knew from every other person, and for whom his affection and solicitude rather increased than diminished. The old gentleman, after a short illness, died. The dog knew the circumstance, watched the corpse, blind as he was, and did his utmost to prevent the undertaker from screwing up the body in the coffin, and most outrageously opposed its being taken out of the house. Being past hope, he grew disconsolate, lost his flesh, and was evidently verging towards his end. One day he heard a gentleman come into the house, and he ran to meet him. His master being old and infirm, wore ribbed stockings for warmth. The gentleman had stockings on of the same kind. The dog perceived it, and thought it was his master, and began to exhibit the most extravagant signs of pleasure; but upon further examination finding his mistake, he retired into a corner, where in a short time he expired.
In October, 1817, one of the constables of St. George's-in-the-East, London, made a complaint before the magistrates at Shadwell office, against a horse for stealing hay. The complainant stated that the horse came regularly every night of its own accord, and without any attendant, to the coach-stands in St. George's, fully satisfied his appetite, and then galloped away. He defied the whole of the parish officers to apprehend him; for if they attempted to go near him while he was eating, he would throw up his heels and kick at them, or run at them, and if they did not go out of the way, he would bite them. The constable therefore thought it best to represent the case to the magistrates.
One of the Magistrates. 'Well, Mr. Constable, if you should be annoyed again by this animal in the execution of your duty, you may apprehend him if you can, and bring him before us to answer your complaints.'
Power of Music.
'Music has charms to soothe the savage beast;
To soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak.'
Ancient writers tell us of musicians who, by their art, could tame the most furious wolves and tigers; and it is well known in America, that the rattlesnake will be so overcome and intoxicated, as it were, by soft music, as to stretch itself at full length upon the ground, and continue in all appearance without life or motion. There is a species of dancing snakes which are carried in baskets through Hindostan, and procure a maintenance for a set of people who play a few simple notes on the flute, with which the snakes seem much delighted, and keep time by a graceful motion of the head, erecting about half their length from the ground, and following the music with gentle curves, like the undulating lines of a swan's neck. 'It is a well-attested fact,' says Forbes, in his 'Oriental Memoirs', 'that when a house is infested with these snakes, and some other of the coluber genus which destroy poultry and small domestic animals, as also by the larger serpents of the boa tribe, the musicians are sent for, who, by playing on a flageolet, find out their hiding places, and charm them to destruction: for no sooner do the snakes hear the music, than they come softly from their retreat, and are easily taken.'
The deer also is very fond of the sound of the pipe, and will stand and listen attentively. Waller, in his 'Ode to Isabella on her Playing on the Lute,' has the following allusion to the fondness of this animal for music:
'Here love takes stand, and while she charms the ear,
Empties his quiver on the listening deer.'
Playford, in his 'Introduction to Music,' has a curious passage on this subject. 'Myself,' says he, 'as I travelled some years since near Royston, met a herd of stags, about twenty, on the road, following a bagpipe and violin: while the music played, they went forward; when it ceased, they all stood still; and in this manner they were brought out of Yorkshire to Hampton Court.'
One Sunday evening, five choristers were walking on the banks of the river Mersey, in Cheshire; after some time being tired with walking, they sat down on the grass, and began to sing an anthem. The field on which they sat, was terminated at one extremity by a wood, out of which, as they were singing, they observed a hare to pass with great swiftness towards the place where they were sitting, and to stop at about twenty yards' distance from them. She appeared highly delighted with the harmony of the music, often turning up the side of her head to listen with more facility. As soon as the harmonious sound was over, the hare returned slowly towards the wood; when she had nearly reached the end of the field, the choristers began the same piece again; at which the hare stopped, turned round, and came swiftly back to about the same distance as before, where she seemed to listen with rapture and delight, till they had finished the anthem, when she returned again by a slow pace tip the field, and entered the wood.
Going to Market.
A butcher and cattle dealer, who resided about nine miles from Alston, in Cumberland, had a dog which he usually took with him when he drove cattle to the market to be sold, and who displayed uncommon dexterity in managing them. At last, so convinced was the master of the sagacity, as well as the fidelity of his dog, that he made a wager that he would entrust him with a fixed number of sheep and oxen to drive alone to Alston market. It was stipulated that no person should be within sight or hearing, who had the least control over the dog; nor was any spectator to interfere, nor be within a quarter of a mile. On the day of trial, the dog proceeded with his business in the most dexterous and steady manner; and although he had frequently to drive his charge through the herds who were grazing, yet he never lost one, but conducting them into the very yard to which he was used to drive them when with his master, he significantly delivered them up to the person appointed to receive them, by barking at the door. What more particularly marked the dog's sagacity was, that when the path the herd travelled lay through a spot where others were grazing, he would run forward, stop his own drove, and then driving the others from each side of the path, collect his scattered charge and proceed. He was several times afterwards thus sent alone for the amusement of the curious or the convenience of his master, and always acquitted himself in the same adroit and intelligent manner.
In Smyrna there are a great number of storks, who build their nests and hatch their young very regularly. The inhabitants, in order to divert themselves at the expense of these birds, and gratify a cruel disposition, sometimes convey hen's eggs into the stork's nest; and when the young are hatched, the cock on seeing them of a different form from his own species, makes a hideous noise, which brings a crowd of other storks about the nest, who to revenge the disgrace which they imagine the hen has brought upon her race, immediately peck her to death. The cock in the meantime makes the heaviest lamentation, as if bewailing his misfortune, which obliged him to have recourse to such extreme punishment.
A young gentleman lately residing in Edinburgh, was the master of a handsome spaniel bitch, which he had bought from a dealer in dogs. The animal had been educated to steal for the benefit of his protector; but it was some time ere his new master became aware of this irregularity of morals, and he was not a little astonished and teazed by its constantly bringing home articles of which it had feloniously obtained possession. Perceiving, at length, that the animal proceeded systematically, in this sort of behaviour, he used to amuse his friends, by causing the spaniel to give proofs of her sagacity in the Spartan art of privately stealing, putting of course the shopkeepers where he meant she should exercise her faculty on their guard as to the issue.
The process was curious, and excites some surprise at the pains which must have been bestowed to qualify the animal for these practices. As soon as the master entered the shop, the dog seemed to avoid all appearance of recognising or acknowledging any connexion with him, but lounged about in an indolent, disengaged, and independent sort of manner, as if she had come into the shop of her accord. In the course of looking over some wares, her master indicated by a touch on the parcel and a look towards the spaniel, that which he desired she should appropriate, and then left the shop. The dog, whose watchful eye caught the hint in an instant , instead of following her master out of the shop, continued to sit at the door, or lie by the fire, watching the counter, until she observed the attention of the people of the shop withdrawn from the prize which she wished to secure. Whenever she saw an opportunity of doing so, as she imagined unobserved, she never failed to jump upon the counter with her fore feet, possess herself of the gloves, or whatever else had been pointed out to her, and escape from the shop to join her master.
Some years ago, an ass was employed at Carisbrook Castle, in the Isle of Wight, in drawing water by a large wheel from a very deep well, supposed to have been sunk by the Romans. When the keeper wanted water, he would say to the ass, 'Tom, my boy, I want water; get into the wheel, my good lad;' which Thomas immediately performed with an alacrity and sagacity that would have done credit to a nobler animal; and no doubt he knew the precise number of times necessary for the wheel to revolve upon its axis, to complete his labour, because every time he brought the bucket to the surface of the well, he constantly stopped and turned round his honest head to observe the moment when his master laid hold of the bucket to draw it towards him, because he had then a nice evolution to make, either to recede or advance a little. It was pleasing to observe with what steadiness and regularity the poor animal performed his labour.
Descending the Alps.
The manner in which the asses descend the precipices of the Alps is truly extraordinary. In the passes of these mountains there are often on one side lofty eminences, and on the other frightful abysses; and as these generally follow the direction of the mountains, the road instead of lying on a level, forms at every little distance steep declivities of several hundred yards downwards. These can only be descended by asses, and the animals themselves seem sensible of the danger from the caution which they use. When they come to the edge of one of the descents, they stop of themselves, without being checked by the rider; and if he inadvertently attempts to spur them on, they are immovable. They seem all this time ruminating on the danger that lies before them, and preparing themselves for the encounter; they not only attentively view the road, but tremble and snort at the danger. Having resolved on the descent, they put their fore feet in a posture as if they were stopping themselves; they then also put their hinder feet together, but a little forward as if they were going to lie down. In this attitude, having taken a survey of the road, they slide down with the swiftness of a meteor. In the meantime, all that the rider has to do is to keep himself fast in the saddle, without checking the rein; for the least motion is sufficient to disorder the equilibrium of the ass, in which case both must unavoidably perish. Their address in this rapid descent is quite amazing; for in their swiftest motion, when they might seem to have lost all government of themselves, they follow the different windings of the road, as if they had previously settled in their minds the route they were to follow, and taken every precaution for their safety.
Friendship a Guiding Star.
Mr. Blaine, in his 'Canine Pathology,' relates, that a gentleman brought from Newfoundland a dog of the true breed, which he gave to his brother, who resided in the neighbourhood of Thames Street; but who having no other means of keeping the animal except in close confinement, preferred sending him to a friend living in Scotland. The dog, who had been originally disembarked at Thames Street, was again re-embarked at the same place, on board a Berwick smack. During his stay in London, he had never travelled half a mile from the spot where he was landed. He had however contracted an affection for his master; and when he arrived in Scotland, his regret at the separation induced him to take the first opportunity of escaping; and though he certainly had never before travelled one yard of the road, yet he found his way back in a very short time to his former residence in London, but in so exhausted a state, that he had only time to express his joy at seeing his master, and expired within an hour after his arrival.
Lion and his Keeper.
In the menagerie at Brussels, there is a lion called Danco, whose cage was lately in want of some repairs. His keeper desired a carpenter, to set about it, but when the workman came and saw the lion, he started back with terror. The keeper entered the animal's cage, and led him to the upper part of it, while the lower was refitting. He there amused himself for some time playing with the lion, and being wearied, he soon fell asleep. The carpenter fully relying upon the vigilance of the keeper, pursued his work with rapidity, and when he had finished, he called him to see what was done. The keeper made no answer. Having repeatedly called in vain, he began to feel alarmed at his situation, and he determined to go to the upper part of the cage, where, looking through the railing, he saw the lion and the keeper sleeping side by side. He immediately uttered a loud cry; the lion, awakened by the noise, started up and stared at the carpenter with an eye of fury, and then placing his paw on the breast of his keeper, lay down to sleep again. At length, the keeper was awakened by some of the attendants, and he did not appear in the least apprehensive on account of the situation in which he found himself, but shook the lion by the paw, and then gently conducted him to his former residence.
M. Homberg relates, that there is a species of ants at Surinam, which the inhabitants call visiting ants. They march in troops, with the same regularity as a large and powerful army. As soon as they appear, all the coffers and chests of drawers in the house are set open for them, as they are sure to exterminate all the rats, and mice, and other noxious animals, acting as if they had a peculiar commission from nature to destroy them. The only misfortune is, they pay their visits too seldom; they would be welcome every month, but they do not appear sometimes for three years together.
During the war between Augustus Caesar and Marc Antony, when all the world stood wondering and uncertain which way Fortune would incline herself, a poor man at Rome, in order to be prepared for making, in either event, a bold hit for his own advancement, had recourse to the following ingenious expedient. He applied himself to the training of two crows with such diligence, that he brought them the length of pronouncing with great distinctness, the one a salutation to Caesar, and the other a salutation to Antony. When Augustus returned, conqueror, the man went out to meet him with the crow suited to the occasion, perched on his fist, and every now and then it kept exclaiming, 'Salve, Caesar, Victor Imperator!' 'Hail, Caesar, Conqueror and Emperor!' Augustus, greatly struck and delighted with so novel a circumstance, purchased the bird of the man for a sum which immediately raised him into opulence.
A dog, between the breed of a mastiff and a bull-dog, belonging to a chimney-sweeper, laid, according to his master's orders, on a soot-bag, which he had placed inadvertently almost in the middle of a narrow back street, in the town of Southampton. A loaded cart passing by, the driver desired the dog to move out of the way. On refusing he was scolded, then beaten, first gently, and afterwards with the smart application of the cart-whip; all to no purpose. The fellow, with an oath threatened to drive over the dog - he did so, and the faithful animal in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the wheel, by biting it, was crushed to pieces.
Mr. Turneer, who resided long in America, mentions an affecting trait in the character of the bison, when a calf. Whenever a cow bison falls by the murderous hand of the hunters, and happens to have a calf, the hapless young one, far from attempting to escape, stays by its fallen dam with signs expressive of the strongest natural affection. The body of the dam thus secured, the hunter takes no heed of the calf, of which he knows he is sure, but proceeds to cut up the carcase; then, laying it on his horse, he returns home, followed by the poor calf, which instinctively attends the remains of its dam. Mr. Turner says, that he has seen a single hunter ride into the town of Cincinnati, followed in this manner by three calves, which seemed each to claim of him the parent of whom he had cruelly bereft it.
Two spaniels, mother and son, were selfhunting in Mr. Drake's woods near Amersham, in Bucks. The gamekeeper shot the mother; the son frightened, ran away for an hour or two, and then returned to look for his mother. Having found her dead body, he laid himself down by her, and was found in that situation the next day by his master, who took him home, together with the body of the mother. Six weeks did this affectionate creature refuse all consolation, and almost all nutriment. He became at length universally convulsed, and died of grief.
In Borlase's 'Natural History of Cornwall,' we have an account of a hare which was so domesticated as to feed from the hand, lay under a chair in a common sitting-room, and appear in every other respect as easy and comfortable in its situation as a lapdog. It now and then went out into the garden, but after regaling itself with the fresh air, always returned to the house as its proper habitation. Its usual companions were a greyhound and spaniel, with whom it spent its evenings, the whole three sporting and sleeping together on the same hearth. What makes the circumstance more remarkable is, that the greyhound and spaniel were both so fond of hare-hunting, that they used often to go out coursing together, without any person accompanying them; they were like the 'sly couple,' of whose devotion to the chase an amusing instance has been already recorded.
Dr. Townson, the traveller, when at Gottingen, had brought a young hare to such a degree of frolicsome familiarity, that it would run and jump about his sofa and bed; leap upon, and pat, him with its fore feet; or whilst he was reading, knock the book out of his hands, as if to claim, like a fondled child, the exclusive preference of his attention.
A favourite house-dog, left to the care of its master's servants at Edinburgh, while he was himself in the country, would have been starved by them if it had not had recourse to the kitchen of a friend of its master's, which in better days it had occasionally visited. On the return of the master it enjoyed plenty at home, and stood in no further need of the liberality it experienced; but still it did not forget that hospitable kitchen where it had found a resource in adversity. A few days after, the dog fell in with a duck, which, as he found in no private pond, he probably concluded to be no private property. He snatched up the duck in his teeth, carried it to the kitchen where he had been so hospitably fed, laid it at the cook's feet, with many polite movements of the tail, and then scampered off with much seeming complacency at having given this testimony of his grateful sense of favours.
Assisting the Aged.
M. de Boussanelle, captain of cavalry in the regiment of Beauvilliers, mentions, that a horse belonging to his company, being from age unable to eat his hay or grind his oats, was fed for two months by two horses on his right and left, who eat with him. These two horses, drawing the hay out of the rack, chewed it, and then put it before the old horse, and did the same with the oats, which he was then able to eat.
Saving from Drowning.
A native of Germany, fond of travelling, pursuing his course through Holland, accompanied by a large dog. Walking one evening on a high bank which formed one side of a dyke or canal, so common in that country, his foot slipped, and he was precipitated into the water, and being unable to swim, soon became senseless. When he recovered his recollection, he found himself in a cottage, on the contrary side of the dyke to that from which he fell, surrounded by peasants, who had been using the means generally practised in that country for the recovery of drowned persons. The account given by the peasants was, that one of them returning home from his labour, observed at a considerable distance a large dog in the water, swimming and dragging, and sometimes pushing, something that he seemed to have great difficulty in supporting; but which he at length succeeded in getting into a small creek on the opposite side to that on which the men were.
When the animal had drawn what the peasant now perceived to be a man, as far out of the water as he was able, he began to lick the hands and face of his master, until the man hastened across, and procuring assistance, had the body conveyed to a neighbouring house, where the resuscitating means used soon restored him to sense and recollection. It appeared that the dog had swam with his master upwards of a quarter of a mile, holding him by the nape of the neck, and thus keeping his head above water.
Gemelli Carreri, in his 'Voyage Round the World,' relates a circumstance concerning the orang-otang in its wild state, which is indicative of very considerable powers, both of reflection and invention. When the fruits on the mountains are exhausted, they will frequently descend to the seacoast, where they feed on various species of shell-fish, but in particular on a large sort of oyster, which commonly lies open on the shore. 'Fearful,' he says, 'of putting in their paws, lest the oyster should close and crush them, they insert a stone as a wedge within the shell; this prevents it from closing, and they then drag out their prey, and devour it at leisure.' Milo of old might have saved his life, had he been only half as wise.
A dog of the pointer kind, brought from South Carolina in an English merchant vessel, was a remarkable prognosticator of bad weather. Whenever he was observed to prick up his cars, scratch the deck, and rear himself to look to the windward, whence he would eagerly snuff up the wind; if it was then the finest weather imaginable, the crew were sure of a succeeding tempest; and the dog became so useful, that whenever they perceived the fit upon him they immediately unreefed the sails, and took in their spare canvas to prepare for the worst. Other animals are prognosticators of weather also; and there is seldom a storm at sea, but it is foretold by some of the natural marine barometers on board, many hours before the gale. Cats and pigs, for instance, perceiving, though we cannot, the alteration in the atmosphere, by some effect it has on their bodies, will run about like wild creatures. The cat will dance up and down the shrouds, gnaw the ropes, and divert herself with every thread that stirs. The pigs will race about, bite one another, and commence perfect posture masters, though they get many a kick for it from the apprehensive sailor. May not the popular saying of pigs 'seeing the wind,' have had its origin from this circumstance? Poultry on ship board, also, before the approach of windy weather, are greatly disturbed, beating their wings about their coops, drooping prodigiously, and making a low mournful kind of cackling.
Bisset, the Animal Teacher.
Few individuals have presented so striking an instance of patience and eccentricity as Bisset, the extraordinary teacher of animals. He was a native of Perth, and an industrious shoemaker, until the notion of teaching the quadruped kind attracted his attention in the year 1759. Reading an account of a remarkable horse shown at St. Germains, curiosity led him to try his hand on a horse and a dog, which he bought in London, and he succeeded beyond all expectation. Two monkeys were the next pupils he took in hand, one of which he taught to dance and tumble on the rope, whilst the other held a candle in one paw for his companion, and with the other played a barrel organ. These antic animals he also instructed to play several fanciful tricks, such as drinking to the company, riding and tumbling on a horse's back, and going through several regular dances with a dog. Being a man of unwearied patience, three young cats were the next objects of his tuition. He taught these domestic tigers to strike their paws in such directions on the dulcimer as to produce several regular tunes, having music-books before them, and squalling at the same time in different keys or tones, first, second, and third, by way of concert. He afterwards was induced to make a public exhibition of his animals, and the well-known Cat's Opera was advertised in the Haymarket; the horse, the dog, the monkeys, and the cats, went through their several parts with uncommon applause to crowded houses; and in a few days Bisset found himself possessed of near a thousand pounds to reward his ingenuity.
This success excited Bisset's desire to extend his dominion over other animals, including even the feathered kind. He procured a young leveret, and reared it to beat several marches on the drum with its hind legs, until it became a good stout hare. He taught canary birds, linnets, and sparrows to spell the name of any person in company, to distinguish the hour and minute of time, and play many other surprising fancies. He trained six turkey cocks to go through a regular country dance; but in doing this confessed he adopted the Eastern method, by which camels are made to dance by heating the floor. In the course of six months' teaching, he made a turtle fetch and carry like a dog; and having chalked the floor and blackened its claws, could direct it to trace out any given name in the company. He trained a dog and cat to go through many amazing performances. His confidence even led him to try experiments on a goldfish, which he did not despair of making perfectly tractable. But sometime afterwards a doubt being started to him, whether the obstinacy of a pig could not be conquered, his usual patient fortitude was devoted to the experiment. He bought a black sucking-pig, and trained it to lie under the stool on which he sat at work. At various intervals during six or seven months, he tried in vain to bring the young boar to his purpose; and despairing of every kind of success, he was on the point of giving it away, when it struck him to adopt a new mode of teaching, in consequence of which, in the course of sixteen months, he made an animal supposed the most obstinate and perverse in nature, to become the most tractable. In August, 1783, he once again turned itinerant, and took his learned pig to Dublin, where it was shown for two or three nights at Ranelagh. It was not only under full command, but appeared as pliant and good-natured as a spaniel. When the weather having made it necessary he should remove into the city, he obtained the permission of the chief magistrate, and exhibited the pig in Dame Street. 'It was seen,' says the author of 'Anthologia Hibernica,' 'for two or three days, by many persons of respectability, to spell without any apparent direction the names of those in the company, to cast up accounts, and to point out even the words thought of by persons present; to tell exactly the hour, minutes, and seconds; to point out the married; to kneel, and to make his obeisance to the company, &c. &c. Poor Bisset was thus in a fair way of 'bringing his pig to a good market,' when a man, whose insolence disgraced authority, broke into the room without any sort of pretext, assaulted the unoffending man, and drew his sword to kill the swine, an animal that in the practice of good manners was at least superior to his assailant. The injured Bisset pleaded in vain the permission that had been granted him; he was threatened to be dragged to prison. He was constrained to return home, but the agitation of his mind threw him into a fit of illness, and he died a few days after at Chester on his way to London.
Sonnini and his Cat.
M. Sonnini, when in Egypt, had an Angora cat, of which he was extremely fond. It was. entirely covered with long white silken hairs; its tail formed a magnificent plume, which the animal elevated at pleasure over its body. Not one spot, nor a single dark shade, tarnished the dazzling white of its coat. Its nose and lips were of a delicate rose colour. Two large eyes sparkled in its round head; one was of a light yellow, and the other of a fine blue.
This beautiful animal had even more loveliness of manners than grace in its attitude and movements. With the physiognomy of goodness she possessed a gentleness truly interesting. However ill anyone used her, she never attempted to advance her claws from their sheaths. Sensible to kindness, she licked the hand which caressed, and even that which tormented her. In Sonnini's solitary moments, she chiefly kept by his side; she interrupted him often in the midst of his labours or meditations, by little caresses extremely touching, and generally followed him in his walks. During his absence she sought and called for him incessantly, with the utmost inquietude. She recognised his voice at a distance, and seemed on each fresh meeting with him to feel increased delight.
'This animal,' says Sonnini, 'was my principal amusement for several years. How was the expression of attachment depicted upon her countenance! How many times have her caresses made me forget my troubles, and consoled me in my misfortunes! My beautiful and interesting companion, however, at length perished. After several days of suffering, during which I never forsook her, her eyes constantly fixed on me, were at length extinguished; and her loss rent my heart with sorrow.'
The ivory-billed woodpecker of America, stands at the head of his species. His appearance and his manners have a dignity in them superior to the common herd of woodpeckers. Wherever he frequents, he leaves numerous monuments of his industry behind him. We there see enormous pine trees, with cart loads of bark lying around their roots, and chips of the trunk itself in such quantities, as to sug-gest the idea that half a dozen of axe-men had been at work there for the whole morning. The body of the tree is also disfigured with such numerous and such large excavations that one can hardly conceive it possible for the whole to be the work of a woodpecker. With such strength, and an apparatus so powerful, what havoc might not numbers of his species commit on the most useful of our forest trees; and yet, with all these appearances, and much of vulgar prejudice against him, it may fairly be questioned whether he is at all injurious, or, at least, whether his exertions do not contribute most powerfuly to the protection of the timber. Examine closely the tree where he has been at work, and you will soon perceive that it is neither from motives of mischief nor amusement that he slices off the bark, or digs his way into the trunk - for the sound and healthy tree is not the object of his attention. The diseased trees, infested with insects, and hastening to putrefaction, are his favourites; there the deadly crawling enemy have formed a lodgment, between the bark and tender wood, to drink up the very vital part of the tree. It is the ravages of these vermin which the intelligent proprietor of the forest deplores, as the sole perpetrators of the destruction of his timber. Would it be believed that the larvae of an insect, or fly, no longer than a grain of rice, should silently, and in one season, destroy some thousand acres of pine trees, many of them from two to three feet in diameter, and a hundred and fifty feet high? Yet, who-ever passes along the high road, from George Town to Charleston, in South Carolina, about twenty miles from the former place, can have striking and melancholy proofs of this fact. In some places, the whole woods, as far as you can see around you, are dead, stripped of the bark, their wintry-looking arms and bare trunks bleaching in the sun, and tumbling in ruins before every blast, representing a frightful picture of desolation.
One of these woodpeckers slightly wounded in the wing, was locked in a room in an inn for about an hour, during which time he had made an effort to escape. He had mounted along the side of the window, nearly as high as the ceiling, a little below, which he had begun to break through. The floor was covered with large pieces of plaster; the lath was exposed for at least fifteen inches square, and a hole large enough to admit the hand, opened to the weather boards, so that in less than another hour, he would certainly have succeeded in making his way through.
Division of Labour.
The Alpine marmots are said to act in concert in the collection of materials for the construction of their habitations. Some of them, we are told, cut the herbage, others collect it into heaps; a third set serve as waggons to carry it to their holes; while a fourth perform all the functions of draught horses. The manner of the latter part of the curious process is this. The animal who is to serve as the waggon lies down on, his back, and extending his four limbs as wide as he can, allows himself to be loaded with hay; and those who are to be the draught horses trail him thus loaded by the tail, taking care not to overset him. The task of thus serving as the vehicle being evidently the least enviable part of the business, is taken by every one of the party in turn. 'I have often,' says Mr. Beauplan (in his 'Description of the Ukraine'), 'seen them practise this, and have had the curiosity to watch them at it for days together.'
Brickell, in his 'History of North Carolina,' gives the following instance of the extraordinary cunning manifested by the Racoon. It is fond of crabs, and when in quest of them, will stand by the side of a swamp, and hang its tail over into the water; the crabs mistaking it for food, are sure to lay hold of it; and as soon as the beast feels them pinch, he pulls them out with a sudden jerk. He then takes them to a little distance from the water's edge; and in devouring them, is careful to get them crossways in his mouth, lest he should suffer from their nippers.
In the province of Cumana, there are immense numbers of wild horses in the forests. They live there in societies, generally to the number of five or six hundred, and even one thousand; they occupy immense savannas, where it is dangerous to disturb, or try to catch them. In the dry season, they are some times obliged to go two or three leagues, and even more, to find water. They set out in regular ranks, four abreast, and thus form a procession of an extent of a quarter of a league. There are always five or six scouts, who precede the troop by about fifty paces. If they perceive a man or an American tiger, they neigh, and the troop stops; if avoided, they continue their march; but if an attempt be made to pass across their squadron, they leap on the imprudent traveller, and crush him under their feet. The best way is always to avoid them, and let them continue their route. They have also a chief, who marches between the scouts and the squadron; a kind of adjutant, whose duty consists in hindering any individual from quitting the ranks. If any one attempts to straggle, either from hunger or fatigue, he is bitten till he resumes his place, and the culprit obeys with his head hanging down. Three or four chiefs march at the rear-guard, at five or six paces from the troops.
The wild asses, when they travel, observe the same discipline as horses; but males, though they also live in troops, are continually fighting with each other, and it has not been observed that they have any chief. At the appearance of a common enemy, however, they unite and display still more tricks and address than the horses, in avoiding the snares which are laid for catching them, and also in escaping when taken.
In the United States of America, there is a species of eagle called the white-headed or bald eagle, which feeds equally on the produce of the sea and of the land, but is particularly fond of fish. In procuring the latter, he displays in a very singular manner his cunning and his power, which bear down all opposition. 'Elevated,' says Wilson, in his 'American Ornithology,' 'on the high dead limb of some gigantic tree, that commands a high view of the neighbouring short and ocean, he seems calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered tribes that pursue their busy avocations below; the snow-white gulls, slowly winnowing the air; the busy tringae, coursing along the sands; trains of ducks streaming over the surface; silent and watchful cranes, intent and wading; clamorous crows; and all the winged multitude that subsist by the bounty of this vast liquid magazine of nature. High over all these hovers one, whose action instantly arrests all attention. By his wide curvature of wing, and sudden suspension in the air, he knows him to be the fish-hawk, settling over some devoted victim of the deep. His eye kindles at the sight, and balancing himself with half-opened wings on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow from heaven, descends the distant object of his attention, the roar of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the deep, making the surges foam around! At this moment the looks of the eagle are all ardour; and levelling his neck for flight, he sees the fish-hawk once more emerge, struggling with his prey, and mounting into the air with screams of exultation. This is the signal for the eagle, who, launching in the air, instantly gives chase, and soon gains on the fish-hawk; each exerts his utmost power to mount above the other, displaying in these rencontres the most elegant and sublime aerial evolutions. The unencumbered eagle rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, when with a sudden scream, probably of despair and honest execration, the latter drops his fish; the eagle poising himself for a moment, as if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty silently away into the woods.
These predatory attacks and defensive manoeuvres of the eagle and the fish-hawk are matters of daily observation along the whole of the sea-coast, from Georgia to New England, and frequently excite great interest in the spectators.
The Tailor Bird.
The tailor bird of Hindostan is so called, from its instinctive ingenuity in forming its nest. It first selects a plant with large leaves, and then gathers cotton from the shrub, spins it to a thread by means of its long bill and slender feet, and then, as with a needle, sews the leaves neatly together to conceal its nest. How applicable are the following lines in the 'Musae Seatonianae,' to this ingenious bird:
'Behold a bird's nest,
Mark it well within, without;
No tool had he that wrought; no knife to cut;
No nail to fix; no bodkin to insert;
No glue to join; his little beak was all;
And yet how neatly finished! what nice hand
With every implement and means of art,
Could compass such another?'
An English gentleman, visiting a public garden at St. Germain, in France, accompanied by a large mastiff, was refused admittance for his dog, whom he therefore left to the care of the body guards, who were stationed at the gate. Some time after, the gentleman returned, and informed the guards that he had lost his watch and told the serjeant that if he would permit him to take in the dog, he would soon discover the thief. His request being granted, he made the dog understand by a motion what he had lost; the animal immediately ran about among the company, and traversed the garden for some time. At length, it seized hold of a man; the gentleman insisted that he was the person who had got the watch, and on being searched, not only that watch, but six others, were discovered in his pockets, What is more remarkab, the dog possessed such perfection of instinct, as to take his master's watch from the other six, and carry it to him!
A mastiff dog, who owed more to the bounty of a neighbour than to his master, was once locked by mistake in the well-stored pantry of his benefactor for a whole day, where milk, butter, bread, and meat, within his reach, were in abundance. On the return of the servant to the pantry, seeing the dog come out, and knowing the time he had been confined, she trembled for the devastation which her negligence must have occasioned; but on close examination, it was found that the honest creature had not tasted of anything, although, on coming out, he fell on a bone that was given to him, with all the voraciousness of hunger.
Of Two Evils Choosing the Least.
A French dog was taught by his master to execute various commissions, and among others, to fetch him victuals from the traiteur's in a basket. One evening when the dog was returning to his master thus furnished, two other dogs, attracted by the savoury smell of the petits pates that this new messenger was carrying, determined to attack him. The dog put his basket on the ground, and set himself courageously against the first that advanced a against him; but while he was engaged with the one on the other ran to the basket, and began to help himself At length, seeing that there was no chance of beating both dogs, and saving his master's dinner, he threw himself between his two opponents, and without any further ceremony, quickly despatched the remainder of the Petits pates himself, and then returned to his master with the empty basket.
Duty before Revenge.
A gentleman residing in the City of London, was going one afternoon to his country cottage, accompanied by Caesar, a favourite Newfoundland dog, when he recollected that he had the key of a cellaret which would be wanted at home during his absence. Having accustomed his dog to carry things, he sent him back with the key; the dog executed his commission, and afterwards rejoined his master, who discovered that he had been fighting, and was much torn about the head. The cause he afterwards learned, on his return to town in the evening. Caesar while passing with the key, was attacked by a ferocious butcher's dog, against whom he made no resistance, but tore himself away, without relinquishing his charge. After delivering the key in town, he returned the same way, and on reaching the butcher's shop from which he had been so rudely assailed, he stopped and looked out for his antagonist; the dog sallied forth; Caesar attacked him with a fury which nothing but revenge for past wrongs could have animated; nor did he quit the butcher's dog, until he had laid him dead at his feet.
Mr. John Lockman, in some 'Reflections on Operas' prefixed to his musical drama of Rosalinda, mentions a singular instance of the sense of melody evinced by a pigeon. Being at the house of Mr. Lee, a gentleman in Cheshire, whose daughter was an excellent performer on the harpsichord, he observed a pigeon which, whenever the young lady played the song of 'Speri si,' in Handel's opera of Admetus, but upon no other occasion, would descend from an adjacent dovehouse, to the window of the room where she sat, and listen, apparently with the most pleasing emotions, till the song was finished, when it immediately returned to the dovehouse.
The intelligence (says Wilson) which the American mocking bird displays in listening to, and laying up lessons, from almost every species of the feathered creation within his hearing, is really surprising, and marks the peculiarity of his genius. He possesses a voice full, strong, and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the clear mellow notes of the wood thrush, to the savage scream of the bald eagle. In the measure and accent, he faithfully follows his originals. In force and sweetness of expression, he greatly improves upon them. In his native groves, mounted on the top of a tall bush or half-grown tree, in the dawn of a dewy morning, while the woods are already vocal with a multitude of warblers, his admirable song rises pre-eminent over every competitor. Neither is this strain altogether imitative. His own native notes, which are easily distinguishable, are bold and full, and varied seemingly beyond all limits. They consist of short expressions of two, three, or at most five or six syllables, generally interspersed with imitations, and all of them uttered with great emphasis and rapidity, and continued with undiminished ardour. The buoyant gaiety of his action arresting the eye, as his song most irresistibly does the ear, he sweeps round with an enthusiastic ecstasy; he mounts and descends as his song swells or dies away; and, as it has been beautifully expressed, 'he bounds aloft with the celerity of an arrow, as if to recover or recall his very soul, expired in the last elevated strain.' While exerting himself, a bystander, destitute of sight, would suppose that the whole feathered tribe had assembled together on a trial of skill, each striving to produce his utmost effect, so perfect are his imitations. He many times deceives the sportsman, and sends him in search of birds that perhaps are not within miles of him, but whose notes he exactly imitates: even birds themselves are frequently imposed on by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed by the fancied calls of their mate, or dive with precipitation into the depth of the thickets, at the scream of what they suppose to be the sparrowhawk.
The mocking-bird loses little of the power and energy of his song by confinement. In his domesticated state, when he commences his career of song, it is impossible to stand by uninterested. He whistles for the dog; Caesar starts up, wags his tail, and runs to meet his master. He squeaks out like a hurt chicken, and the hen hurries about with hanging wings and bristled feathers, clucking to protect her injured brood. The barking of the dog, the mewing of the cat, the creaking of a passing wheelbarrow, follow with great truth and rapidity. He repeats the tune taught him by his master, though of considerable length, fully and faithfully. He runs over the quiverings of the canary, and the clear whistlings of the Virginia nightingale, or red-bird, with such superior execution and effect, that the mortified songsters feel their own inferiority, and become altogether silent, while he seems to triumph in their defeat by redoubling his exertions.
This excessive fondness for variety, however, in the opinion of some, injures his song. His elevated imitations of the brown thrush are frequently interrupted by the crowing of cocks; and the warblings of the bluebird, which he exquisitely manages, are mingled with the screaming of swallows, or the cackling of hens; amidst the simple melody of the robin, we are suddenly surprised by the shrill reiterations of the whip-poor-will; while the notes of the killdeer, blue jay, martin, and twenty others, succeed with such imposing reality, that we look round for the originals, and discover, with astonishment, that the sole performer in this singular concert is the admirable bird now before us. During this exhibition of his powers, he spreads his wings, expands his tail, and throws himself round the cage in all the ecstasy of enthusiasm, seeming not only to sing, but to dance, keeping time to the measure of his music. Both in his native and domesticated state, during the solemn stillness of night, as soon as the moon rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful solo; and serenades us the livelong night with a full display of his vocal powers, making the whole neighbourhood ring with his inimitable medley.
In the parish of St. Olave, Tooley Street, Borough, the churchyard is detached from the church, and surrounded with high buildings, so as to be wholly inaccessible but by one large close gate. A poor tailor of this parish dying (says Mr. Blaine, in his 'Canine Pathology'), left a small cur dog inconsolable for his loss. The little animal would not leave his dead master even for food; and whatever he eat, was obliged to be placed in the same room with the corpse. When the body was removed for burial, this faithful attendant followed the coffin. After the funeral, he was hunted out of the churchyard by the sexton. The next day he again found the animal, who had made his way by some unaccountable means into the enclosure, and had dug himself a bed on the grave of his master. Once more he was hunted out, and again he was found in the same situation the following day. The minister of the parish hearing of the circumstance, had him caught, taken home and fed, and endeavoured by every means to win the animal's affections; but they were inseparably wedded to his late master, and he took the first opportunity to escape, and regain his lonely situation. With true benevolence, the worthy clergyman permitted him to follow the bent of his inclinations; but to soften the rigour of his fate, he built him a small kennel upon the grave, which was replenished once a day with food and water. Two years did this mirror of fidelity pass in this manner, till death put an end to his griefs.
The dolphin was in great repute amongst the ancients for its love to the human race; it was consecrated to the gods, and was honoured with the title of the Sacred Fish.
Pliny has the following, among other most marvellous instances of this love for mankind, which he confesses he would have been ashamed to relate, had they not been set down for truth in many veritable chronicles. In the reign of Augustus Caesar, he tells us that there was a dolphin in the Lucrine lake, which formed a most romantic attachment to a poor man's son. The boy had to go every day from Baiae to Puteoli to school, and such was the friendly terms on which he had got with the dolphin, that he had only to wait by the banks of the lake, and cry, Simo, Simo, the name he had given to the animal, when, lo! Simo came scudding to the shore, let fall the sharp prickles of his skin, and gently offered his back for the boy to mount upon. The boy, nothing afraid, used to mount instantly, when the dolphin, without either rein or spur, would speed across the sea to Puteoli, and after landing the young scholar, wait about the vicinity till he was returning home, when it would again perform the same sort of civil service. The boy was not ungrateful for such extraordinary favour, and used every day to bring a good store of victuals for Simo, which the animal would take from his hand in the most tame and kindly manner imaginable. For several years this friendly intercourse Was kept up; it was, in fact, only terminated by the death of the boy; when, as the story goes, the dolphin was so affected at seeing him return no more, that it threw itself on the shore, and died, as was thought, of very grief and sorrow!
Wonderful as this story is, it is not without its fellow. Plutarch says, that 'there was in the city of Jassos, a boy called Hermias (Qu. Hermes), who had also formed such a friendship with a dolphin, that he used in the same way to ride on its back over the sea. It happened on one occasion of this kind, that a great storm arose, and the boy, unable to keep his seat, was drowned. The dolphin brought the dead body of its lost friend to shore, and as if reproaching itself for having been the cause of the calamity, would return to the sea no more, but launching itself on the sand, lay there till it expired.'
In all cases of shipwreck, the dolphin was believed to be in waiting, to rescue and carry on shore the unfortunate mariners. Arion, the musician, when thrown overboard by the pirates, is said to have been indebted for his life to this animal.
'But, past belief, a dolphin's arched back
Preserved Arion from his destined wrack;
Secure he sits, and with harmonious strains
Requites the bearer for his friendly pains.'
Whence all these incredible stories originated, it is difficult to conjecture; for there is this insuperable objection to giving credence to them, that the dolphins of modern times exhibit no such marks of peculiar attachment to mankind. If they attend on vessels navigating the ocean, it is in the expectation of plunder, and not of tendering assistance in cases of distress. By the seamen of the present day, they are held in abhorrence rather than esteem, for their frolics on the surface of the water are almost always the sure signs of an approaching gale.
Mr. Percival, in his account of the Island of Ceylon, speaking of the Indian ichneumon, a small creature in appearance between the weasel and the mangoose, says it is of infinite use to the natives from its inveterate enmity to snakes, which would otherwise render every footstep of the traveller dangerous. This diminutive creature on seeing a snake ever so large, will instantly dart on it, and seize it by the throat, provided he finds himself in an open place, where he has an opportunity of running to a certain herb, which he knows instinctively to be an antidote against the poison of the bite, if he should happen to receive one. Mr. Percival saw the experiment tried in a closed room, where the ichneumon, instead of attacking his enemy, did all in his power to avoid him. On being carried out of the house, however, and laid near his antagonist in the plantation, he immediately darted at the snake, and soon destroyed it. It then suddenly disappeared for a few minutes, and again returned, as soon as it had found the herb and ate it.
The monkeys in India, knowing by instinct the malignity of the snakes, are most vigilant in their destruction; they seize them when asleep by the neck, and running to the nearest flat stone, grind down the head by a strong friction on the surface, frequently looking at it, and grinning at their progress. When convinced that the venomous fangs are destroyed, they toss the reptiles to their young ones to play with, and seem to rejoice in the destruction of their common enemy.
A recent traveller in Buenos Ayres and Chili states, that the cattle there will scent the water at a considerable distance, and are even sensible of the approach of rain. In the course of his progress from Buenos Ayres to Mendoca, he observed this quality which the cattle possessed. They had been long without water, and had sent the negroes to look out for a spring when the cattle began to stretch out their necks and raise their heads towards the west, as if they would be certain of obtaining drink, could they but raise themselves in the air. At that moment, not a cloud or a breath of air was to be seen or felt; but in a few minutes the cattle began to move about as if mad, or possessed by some invisible spirit, snuffing the air with most violent eagerness, and gathering closer and closer to each other; and before we could form any rational conjecture, as to what could occasion their simultaneous motion, the most tremendous storm came on of thunder and lightning, and the rain fell in perpendicular streams, as if all the fountains of heaven were suddenly broke loose, so that the cattle easily drank their fill at the spot on which they stood.
Though the great naturalist, Linnaeus, in speaking of the common mouse, said 'delectatur musica,' yet so little was it credited, that Gmelin omitted mentioning this feature in his edition of Linnaeus's 'Systema Naturae.' Subsequently, however, the assertion has been satisfactorily confirmed. Dr. Archur, of Norfolk, in the United States, says, 'On a rainy evening in the winter Of 1817, as I was alone in my chamber, I took up my flute and commenced playing. In a few minutes my attention was directed to a mouse that I saw creeping from a hole, and advancing to the chair in which I was sitting. I ceased playing, and it ran precipitately back to its hole; I began again shortly afterwards, and was much surprised to see it reappear, and take its old position. The appearance of the little animal was truly delightful; it couched itself on the floor, shut its eyes, and appeared in ecstasy; I ceased playing, and it instantly disappeared again. This experiment I repeated frequently with the same success, observing that it was always differently affected, as the music varied from the slow and plaintive, to the brisk or lively. It finally went off, and all my art could not entice it to return.'
A more remarkable instance of this fact appeared in the Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal, in the year 1817. It was communicated by Dr. Cramer, of Jefferson's county, on the credit of a gentleman of undoubted veracity, who states that 'one evening in the month of December, as a few officers on board a British man of war, in the harbour of Portsmouth, were seated round the fire, one of them began to play a plaintive air on the violin. He had scarcely performed ten minutes, when a mouse, apparently frantic, made its appearance in the centre of the floor. The strange gestures of the little animal strongly excited the attention of the officers, who with one consent resolved to suffer it to continue its singular actions unmolested. Its exertions now appeared to be greater every moment - it shook its head, leaped about the table, and exhibited signs of the most ecstatic delight. It was observed, that in proportion to the gradation of the tones to the soft point, the feelings of the animal appeared to be increased, and vice versa. After performing actions which an animal so diminutive would at first sight seem incapable of, the little creature, to the astonishment of the delighted spectators, suddenly ceased to move, fell down, and expired without evincing any symptoms of pain.
To put the ingenuity of the spider to the test, a gentleman frequently placed one on a small upright stick, and surrounded the base with water. After having discovered that the ordinary means of retreat are cut off, it ascends the point of the stick, and standing nearly on its head, ejects its web, which the wind readily carries to some contiguous object. Along this the sagacious insect effects its escape, not, however, until it has ascertained, by several exertions of its whole strength, that its web is properly attached to the other end.
In the year 17:10, Mr. Bon communicated to the Society of Sciences at Montpelier, a discovery which he had made respecting spiders, whose silk, he said, furnished by their webs, was much finer and more plentiful than that of silkworms. The Duke de Noailles, he added, had ordered a pair of stockings to be spun out of spider's silk, which was presented to the Duchess of Burgundy, and acknowledged by her and the whole of the court to be of very extraordinary fineness. In consequence of this discovery, M. de Reaumur was directed by the society to make the necessary experiments; which, however, terminated unsuccessfully, on account of the difficulty of breeding the spiders, and the great number required to produce any quantity of silk. M. de Reaumur says, that 288 spiders would only furnish as much silk as one silkworm; and that it would take 663,552 to make a pound of silk. For these reasons, therefore, the scheme, which was one of great ingenuity, seems to have been abandoned.
A little girl, the daughter of a gentleman in Warwickshire, playing on the banks of a canal which run through his grounds, had the misfortune to fall in, and would in all probability have been drowned, had not a little pony which had been long been kept in the family, plunged into the stream, and brought the child safely ashore, without the slightest injury.
Taking the Water.
A Newfoundland dog kept at the ferryhouse at Worcester, was famous for having at different periods saved three persons from drowning; and so fond was he of the water, that he seemed to consider any disinclination to it in other dogs, as an insult on the species. If a dog was left on the bank by its master, under the idea that it would be obliged to follow the boat across the river, which is narrow, and if, as was not uncommon, it stood yelping at the bottom of the steps, unwilling to take the water, the old dog would go down to him, and with a satirical growl, as if in mockery, take him by the back of the neck, and throw him into the river.
A party of a ship's crew being sent ashore on a part of the coast of India, for the purpose of cutting wood for the ship, one of the men having strayed from the rest was greatly frightened by the appearance of a large lioness, who made towards him; but on her coming up, she lay down at his feet, and looked very earnestly first at him, and then at a tree a short distance off. After repeating her looks several times, she arose, and proceeded onwards to the tree, looking back several times, as if wishing the man to follow her. At length he ventured, and coming to the tree, he perceived a huge baboon with two young cubs in her arms, which he supposed were those of the lioness, as she couched down like a cat, and seemed to eye them very steadfastly. The man being afraid to ascend the tree, decided on cutting it down, and having his axe with him, he set actively to work, when the lioness seemed most attentive to what he was doing. When the tree fell, she sprung upon the baboon, and after tearing him in pieces, she turned round and licked the cubs for some time. She then turned to the man and fawned round him, rubbing her head against him in great fondness, and in token of her gratitude for the service he had done her. After this, she took the cubs away one by one, and the man returned to the ship.
Dr. Franklin, upon discovering a number of ants regaling themselves with some treacle in one of his cupboards, put them to the rout, and then suspended the pot of treacle from the ceiling by a string. He imagined he had put the whole army to flight, but was surprised to see a single ant quit the pot, climb up the string, cross the ceiling, and regain its nest. In less than half an hour several of its companions sallied forth, traversed the ceiling and reached the depository, which they constantly visited until the treacle was consumed. The doctor was therefore of opinion, that ants were enabled to communicate their ideas to each other.
In a memoir published in the 'Transactions of the French Academy,' an account is given of a solitary ant, that was taken from its nest, and thrown upon a heap of corn; it was observed, after surveying this treasure, to hasten immediately back to its residence, where it doubtless communicated to its associates the intelligence; for the granary was very soon filled with visitors, and the corn carried off.
Smith, in his 'Now Voyage to Guinea,' relates what he calls 'a remarkable story of these gentry, the ants.' He says, 'If the ants have not a language (as many people believe they have), yet they certainly have some method or other whereby they easily make themselves to be understood, as I have often experimented in the following manner. When I have seen two or three straggling ants upon the hunt, I have killed a cockroach, and thrown it down before them. As soon as they have found what it was, they have sent one away for help, while the others have stayed and watched the deady body, till he returned at the head of a large posse; and if they have not been able to carry off the cockroach, another has been detached and sent away, who has soon returned with a fresh supply, sufficient to carry off their prey.'
In the vicinity of Inverness, a goldfinch's nest, with six young ones, was taken; the old pair were likewise secured, and the whole family put into a double cage, with a pair of canaries, which had a brood of young; there was a division of wirework between the cages. At first the goldfinches seemed careless about their young ones; but the cock canary, attracted by their cries, forced itself through a flaw in the wires, and began to feed them; an operation which it continued regularly, until the goldfinches undertook the office themselves, and rendered the humanity of the canary no longer necessary.
Ants in a Flood.
D'Azara informs us, that during the inundations of the low districts in South America, when the ant hills, which are usually about three feet in height, are completely under water, the ants avail themselves of an ingenious contrivance, to prevent their being carried to any distance from their habitation. With this view, and for their greater security, they collect into a compact mass, and keep firm hold of each other, previously attaching one of the extremities to some neighbouring plant, or fixed point of support, leaving the other end free, and floating on the surface of the water as long as the inundation, which usually lasts a few days, continues.
Power of Memory.
A singular instance of the memory of ants, is related by M. Huber, in his 'Natural History.' He says, 'I took in the month of April, an ant-hill from the woods, for the purpose of populating my large glazed apparatus; but having more ants than I had occasion for, I gave liberty to a number in the garden of the house where I lived. The latter fixed their abode at the foot of a chestnut tree. The former became the subject of some private observations. I noticed them four months, without allowing them to quit my study; at this time wishing them nearer to a state of nature, I carried the hive into the garden, and placed it ten or fifteen paces from the natural ant-hill. The prisoners profiting by my negligence of not renewing the water which blockaded the passage, escaped, and ran about the environs of their abode. The ants established near the chestnut tree, met and recognised their former companions; fell to mutual caresses; with their antennae took them up by the mandibles, and led them to their own nests; they came presently in a crowd to seek the fugitives, under and about the artificial ant-hill, and even ventured to reach the bell glass, where they effected a complete desertion, by carrying away successively all the ants they found there. In a few days, the hive was depopulated. These ants had remained four months without any communication.'
The town of Bindrabund in India, is in high estimation with the pious Hindoos, who resort to it from the most remote parts of the empire. The town is embosomed in groves of trees, which (says Major Thorn), are the residence of innumerable apes, whose propensity to mischief is increased by the religious respect paid to them in honour of Hunaman, a divinity of the Hindoo mythology, wherein he is characterized under the form of an ape. In consequence of this degrading superstition, such numbers of these animals are supported by the voluntary contributions of pilgrims, that no one dares to resist or illtreat them. Hence, access to the town is often difficult; for should one of the apes take an antipathy against any unlucky traveller, he is sure to be assailed by the whole community, who follow him with all the missile weapons they can collect, as pieces of barnboo, stones, and dirt, making at the same time a most hideous howling. Of the danger attending a rencontre with enemies of this description, a melancholy instance occurred in the year 1808. Two young cavalry officers, belonging to the Bengal army, having occasion to pass this way, were attacked by a body of apes, at whom one of the gentlemen inadvertently fired. The alarm instantly drew the whole body, with the fakeers, out of the place, with so much fury, that the officers, though mounted upon elephants, were compelled to seek their safety in flight; and in endeavouring to pass the Jumna, they both perished.
Another instance of the audacity of the ape in attacking the human species is related by Mollien in his 'Travels in Africa.' A woman going with millet and milk to a vessel from St. Louis, which had stopped before a village in the country of Galam, was attacked by a troop of apes, from three to four feet high; they first threw stones at her, on which she began to run away; they then ran after her, and having caught her, they beat her with sticks until she let go what she was carrying. On her return to the village, she related her adventure to the principal inhabitants, who mounted their horses, and followed by their dogs, went to the place which served as a retreat to this troop of apes; they fired at them, killed ten, and wounded others, which were brought to them by the dogs; but several negroes were severely wounded in this encounter, either by the stones hurled at them by the apes, or by their bites; the females especially were most furious in revenging the death of their young ones, which they carried in their arms.
So much that is wonderful has been recorded of the beaver, that several intelligent writers have not scrupled to express a belief, that it possesses but little of that surprising sagacity and skill ascribed to it. One of the latest writers on the subject, however, Mr. Joseph Sansum, of New York, gives an account of the Canadian beaver, which confirms the general character given of their habits and physical economy. He tells us, that in the deep recesses of Canadian forests, where the beaver is undisturbed by man, it is a practical example of almost every virtue, of conjugal fidelity and paternal care; laborious, thrifty, frugal, honest, watchful, and ingenious. He submits to government in the republican form, for the benefits of association; but is never known, in the most powerful communities, to make depredations upon his weaker neighhours. Wherever a number of these animals come together, they immediately combine in society, to perform the common business of constructing their habitations, apparently acting under the most intelligent design. The Indians were in the habit of prognosticating the mildness or severity of the ensuing winter, from the quantity of provisions laid in by the beavers for their winter's stock. Though there is no appearance indicating the authority of a chief or leader, yet no contention or disagreement is ever observed among them. When a sufficient number of them are collected to form a town, the public business is first attended to; and as they are amphibious animals, provision is to be made for spending their time, occasionally both in and out of the water. In conformity to this law of their nature, they seek a situation which is adapted to both these purposes.
With this view a lake or pond, sometimes a running stream is pitched upon. If it be a lake or pond, the water in it is always deep enough to admit of their swimming under the ice. If it be a stream, it is always such a stream as will form a pond that shall be every way convenient for their purpose; and such is their forecast, that they never fix upon a situation that will not eventually answer their views. Their next business is to construct a dam. This is always placed in the most convenient part of the stream; the form of it is either straight, rounding, or angular, as the peculiarities of the situation require; and no human ingenuity could improve their labours in these respects. The materials they use are wood and earth. They choose a tree on the river side, which will readily fall across the stream: and some of them apply themselves with diligence to cut it through with their teeth. Others cut down smaller trees, which they divide into equal and convenient lengths. Some drag these pieces to the brink of the river, and others swim with them to where the dam is forming.
As many as can find room are engaged in sinking one end of these stakes; and as many more in raising, fixing, and securing the other ends of them. Others are employed at the same time, carrying on the plastering part of the work. The earth is brought in their mouths, formed into a kind of mortar with their feet and tails, and this is spread over the intervals between the stakes, saplings, and twigs, being occasionally interwoven with the mud and slime.
Where two or three hundred beavers are united, these dams are from six to twelve feet thick at the bottom; and at the top not more than two or three. In that part of the dam which is opposed to the current, the stakes are placed obliquely; but on that side where the water is to fall over, they are placed in a perpendicular direction. These dams are sometimes a hundred feet in length, and always of the exact height which will answer their purposes. The ponds thus formed, sometimes cover five or six hundred acres. They generally spread over grounds abounding with trees and bushes of the softest wood, maple, birch, poplar, willow, &c., and, to preserve the dams against inundation, the beaver always leaves sluices near the middle, for the redundant water to pass off.
When the public works are completed, the beavers separate into small companies, to build cabins or houses for themselves. These are built upon piles, along the borders of the pond. They are of an oval construction, resembling a bee hive; and they vary from five to ten feet in diameter, according to the number of families they are to accommodate. These dwellings are never less than two stories high, generally three; and sometimes they contain four apartments. The walls of these are from two to three feet thick, formed of the same materials with the dams. On the inside, they are made smooth, but left rough without, being rendered impenetrable to rain. The lower story is about two feet high, the second is formed by a floor of sticks covered with mud, and the upper apartment terminateswith an arched roof. Through each floor there is a passage, and the uppermost floor is always above the level of the water. Each of these huts has two doors, one on the land side, to admit of their going out and seeking provision that way; another under the water, and below where it freezes, to preserve their communication with the pond.
No association of people can possibly appear more happy, or be better regulated than a tribe of beavers. The male and female always pair. In September, they lay up their winter's stock, which consists of bark and the tender twigs of trees. Then commences the season of love and repose; and during the winter they remain within, everyone enjoying the fruits of his own labour, without pilfering from any other.
Towards spring, the females bring forth their young, to the number of three or four. Soon after, the male retires to gather firs and vegetables, as the spring opens; but the dam remains at home, to nurse and rear up their young. The male occasionally returns home, but not to tarry, until the end of the year; yet, if any injury should happen to their works, the whole society are soon collected by some unknown means, and they join all their forces to repair the injury which has been sustained.
Whenever an enemy approaches their village, the beaver who first perceives the unwelcome stranger, strikes on the water with his tail, to give notice of the approaching danger; and the whole careful tribe instantly plunge into the water.
In a state of nature, undisturbed by barbarous and selfish man, this provident animal lives fifteen or twenty years, and prepares the way for several generations, adapting his dwellings to the increase of his family.
The termites, or white ants, so abundant in Africa, construct their habitations of an astonishing magnitude; they frequently exceed twelve feet in height, and are so firmly cemented as to bear the pressure of several men at the same time. It often happens that while a herd of wild cattle are quietly grazing below, one of their body is stationed on them as sentinel, to give timely notice of approaching danger. The termites begin constructing their habitations by raising, at little distances from each other, several turrets of compact clay, in the shape of sugar loaves; upon these they erect others; those in the centre run to the greatest height; they afterwards cover in the spaces between them, and then take down the sides of all the inner turrets, leaving only the tipper portion to form the cupola or dome, making use of the clay they thus procure, in the formation of the several chambers intended for magazines, nurseries, &c. The nurseries are entirely composed of wooden materials, enclosed in chambers of clay, usually half an inch in width, ranged round, and as close as possible to the royal apartment. The royal chamber, which, as well as the rest, is arched over, occupies as nearly as possible the centre of the building, and is on a level with the surface of the ground; it is at first only an inch in length, but increases in size with that of the queen. In this chamber the king and queen are retained close captives; it is impossible they can ever quit it, the entrance only allowing of the passing and repassing of the soldiers and labourers. In an ant-hill of such extensive size, and where there is such an infinity of chambers to accommodate its numerous inhabitants, there must be of necessity a vast number of subterraneous and winding passages. These passages, which conduct to the upper parts of the dome, are carried in a spiral manner round the building, for the labourers find it extremely difficult to ascend in a less circuitous direction. Very frequently, however, to shorten the distance to the upper nurseries, where they have to take the eggs, they project an arch of about ten inches in length, and half an inch in breadth, groved or worked into steps on its upper surface, to allow of a more easy passage. When the in-sects quit their nest on any expedition, they construct covered galleries of clay, which sometimes run to a considerable distance, and under this they continue their extensive and highly-dreaded depredations.
A gentleman near Exeter had in his possession a hen, which answered the purpose of a cat in destroying mice. She was constantly seen watching close to a corn rick, and the moment a mouse appeared, she seized it in her beak, and carried it to a meadow adjoining, where she would play with it like a young cat for some time, and then kill it. She has been known to catch four or five mice a day in this manner.
The call-birds employed by bird-catchers manifest a most malicious joy in bringing the wild ones into the same state of captivity. Their sight and hearing infinitely excel those of the bird-catcher. The instant the wild birds are perceived, notice is given by one of the rest of the call-birds, after which follows the same tumultuous ecstasy and joy. The call-birds, while the bird is at a distance, do not sing as a bird does in a chamber; they invite the wild ones by what the bird-catchers call short jerks, which, when the birds are good, may be heard at a great distance; the effect of this call or invitation is so great that the wild bird is stopped in its course of flight, and if not already acquainted with the nets, lights boldly within twenty yards of perhaps three or four bird-catchers, which otherwise it would have noticed; nay, it frequently happens that if half a flock only are caught, the remaining half will immediately afterwards light in the nets, and share the same fate; and should only one bird escape, that bird will suffer itself to be pulled at till it is caught: such is the fascinating influence of the call-birds.
The courage and industry of the puffin in rearing and preserving its young is almost incredible, and few birds or beasts will venture to attack it in its retreats, which are winding burrows in the earth, eight or ten feet deep. When the great sea raven approaches, the puffin catches him under the throat with his beak, sticks his claws into his breast, and in vain the tortured animal attempts to get away, for the little bird sticks close to the invader, nor lets go his hold till they both come to the sea, where they drop down together, and the raven is generally drowned.
The Ant Lion.
There are some animals that, from living almost entirely on ants, have obtained the name of ant-eaters. The woodpecker often makes an abundant repast on them; it catches them by means of its glutinous tongue. But the most ingenious contrivance to entrap ants (says Dr. Johnson, the translator of Huber's work), is that practised by a little insect termed the ant-lion. This insect, in its larva state, can walk no other way than backward; it is therefore evident that its prey must come immediately within its reach, since it is unprovided with the means of advancing to secure it. To effect this, it forms a conical cavity of about two inches in depth, in a loose dry sandy soil. It commences its operations by describing a circle in the sand; it then takes its station within, and moving in a retrograde direction, shovels up the sand with its fore feet on the back part of its head, which is flat and square, from which, by a sudden jerk, it is projected to the distance of several inches. As its work proceeds, it describes smaller circles within the first, until they are reduced to almost a mere point. On its meeting any impediment to its labours, such as small stones, it places them one by one on its head, and if possible jerks them beyond the mouth of the pit; failing of this, it endeavours to deposit its load at the entrance of its cavern, by mounting backward with cautious steps. Its residence being finished, it occupies the lower part, concealing its body by a coating of sand. Here it quietly remains until some stray ant, passing this way, and venturing to cross the sides of the pit, is carried by the sliding sand within the grasp of the oppressor. It sometimes happens that the ant, on perceiving its danger, endeavours to scramble up the embankment; but our wary friend, unwilling to be deprived of his long-expected meal, shakes off his usual inactivity, and by a timely shower of sand, seldom fails of bringing down his victim.
Three birds had built their nests almost contiguous to each other. A swallow had erected hers in one corner of the piazza of a house, a phebe in the opposite corner, and a wren possessed a little box which had been made on purpose, and hung between. All these birds were quite tame. The wren began at last to show signs of dislike to the box which had been given to it, though it was not known on what account. At length it resolved, small as it was, to drive the swallow from its nest, and take possession of it, and, astonishing to say, it succeeded. 'Impudence,' says Mr. St. John, who tells the story, ' gets the better of modesty; and this exploit, was no sooner performed than the wren removed every material to its own box with the most admirable dexterity. The signs of triumph appeared very visible; it fluttered with its wings with uncommon velocity, and an universal joy was perceivable in all its movements. The peaceable swallow, like the passive Quaker, meekly sat at a small distance, and never offered the least opposition. But no sooner was the plunder carried away than the injured bird went to work with unabated ardour, and in a few days the depredations were repaired.'
'For the honour of the wren species, it deserves to be noticed that there seems some doubt whether this envious spoiler was really a wren. Mr. St. John is supposed to have confounded it with the common creeper.
Migration of the Swallow.
The mystery which attends the retreat of the swallows from our northern climates during winter is one which promises little hope of ever being solved. To whatever clime or part of the world they proceed, their flight is at an elevation far beyond the reach of human optics. With the first ray of the morning they depart so directly upwards as to elude all research; and with the first dawn of day they return, but whence, no man can tell; they drop as from the clouds, and take up their abode in their former haunts as if they had just left them the hour before.
The preparation for their annual flight is marked by some interesting circumstances. After the swallows have got their second brood, which is generally about the middle of September, they devote the whole of the remaining time to training the young for their ultimate flight. The regularity and order with which this is done is extraordinary. After the business of the food gathering is over, they assemble in multitudes from all quarters in one general convention, on the roof of some building, or on some large tree. While the assembly are seated together, one who seems commander-in-chief keeps aloft on the wing, flying round and round; at last darting upwards with great swiftness, with a loud, sharp, and repeated call, he seems as if he gave the word of command; instantly the whole flock are on the wing, rising upwards in the most beautiful spiral track, till they attain regions beyond the reach of human view. They remain in the upper regions of the atmosphere, from a quarter to half an hour, when they all return by scores and dozens to the place whence they took their flight. This manoeuvre they will repeat twice or three times in the evening, when the weather is fair; and after ten or twelve days of such practising they take their final departure for the season.
The theory of their submerging during winter is now, we believe, generally regarded as all a dream. It has arisen, apparently, from an optical illusion which is very well explained in the following anecdote, related by Mr. Gavin Inglis ('Phil. Mag.' vol. Iii.) 'On the 11th of April, 1812, returning from Glasgow with a friend, we stopped at Kinross to corn our horses, and take a parting dinner. Before dinner was ready, we took a turn down to the old chapel; and returning by the loch (lake) side, we both expressed our astonishment at the vast assemblage of swallows, the first we had seen that season, hovering over the surface of a corner of the lake. " What," said my companion, "can the creatures have emerged from the water? Some people assert that they hybernate at the bottom of lakes and rivers. It must be so: see, there is one just risen." To a superficial observer they had certainly all the appearance of just emerging from the bottom of the lake. But looking attentively, we perceived them regularly descending in a slanting direction, and take something from the surface of the water, in which exercise they always in skimming struck the water with their breast, dashing a spray around them which looked very much like to shaking the water from their wings. This I have since observed a thousand times in the swallow skimming the river or milldam, catching the water flies, but which to persons not interesting themselves in the result, and at some little distance from the scene of action, is certainly very delusive; and without a close inspection, apt to leave the impression of their emerging from the water upon the mind. The weather was still cold, and not a fly abroad in the air to support them; no doubt remained with us of their thus gathering food; an idea in which we were soon strengthened by stepping down to the edge of the lake, when we saw the surface of the water all along the shore, and as far as the eye could reach, swarming with insects, in appearance like gross gunpowder, and the water itself filled with the maggot of a water fly, upon which there can be no doubt whatever the birds were feeding.'
Some similar occurrences had doubtless given birth to the theory of submerging; and Mr. Daines Barrington and others who so confidently assert that they have seen them with their own eyes rising out of lakes and rivers, and shaking the water from their wings, must have been deceived with their eyes open.
Buffon tells us that a shoemaker in Basle, anxious to obtain a solution of this singular mystery, put a collar on a swallow, containing an inscription to this effect:
'Pretty swallow, tell me whither goest thou in winter?'
In the ensuing spring he received by the same courier the following answer:
'To Anthony of Athens. - Why dost thou inquire?'
Assuming the story to be true, it is pretty evident that the answer must have been the work of some wag much nearer than Athens, for both Belon and Aristotle assure us, that though the swallows live half the year in Greece, they always pass the winter in Africa. A better answer to the son of St. Crispin would have been, 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam;' and in any future edition of Buffon the story would not lose anything by substituting this as the real fact.
Gesner quotes a letter from a person, as he says, of credit, in which there is a strange story of two nightingales belonging to an innkeeper at Ratisbon, having been so infected by the sort of conversation indulged in by some officers or deputies of the diet, who frequented the tavern -nay, so wonderfully edified by it, that they used to spend the whole night in discoursing on the political interests of Europe! This is very ridiculous; but not more so than the story to which no less a philosopher than Pliny has given the sanction of his authority, of the two sons of the Emperor Claudius having given some nightingales so classical an education, that they could speak both Greek and Latin fluently, and every day invent some new expressions of their own.
Such fables only deserve mention, to show how little even Instinct, in its humble way, is exempt from misrepresentation, and how little reason avails to prevent very wise men from talking at times as if they were without it.
A carrier on his way to Dumfries had occasion to stop at some houses by the road side, in the way of his business, leaving his cart and horse upon the public road, under the protection of a passenger and a trusty dog. Upon his return he missed a led horse, belonging to a gentleman in the neighbourhood, which he had tied to the end of the cart, and likewise one of the female passengers. On inquiry he was informed that during his absence the female, who had been anxious to try the mettle of the pony, had mounted it, and that the animal had set off at full spied. The carrier expressed much anxiety for the safety of the young woman, casting at the same time an expressive look at his dog. Oscar observed his master's eye, and aware of its meaning, instantly set off in pursuit of the pony, which he came up with soon after he had passed the first toll-bar on the Dalbeattie road, when he made a sudden spring, seized the bridle, and held the animal fast. Several people having observed the circumstance, and the perilous situation of the girl, came to relieve her. Oscar, however, notwithstanding their repeated endeavours, would not quit his hold, and the pony was actually led into the stable with the dog, till such time as the carrier should arrive. Upon the carrier entering the stable, Oscar wagged his tail in token of satisfaction, and immediately relinquished the bridle to his master.
The bears in Kamschatka have recourse to a singular stratagem in order to catch the bareins, which are much too swift of foot for them. These animals keep together in large herds; they frequent mostly the low grounds, and love to browse at the feet of rocks and precipices. The bear hunts them by scent till he comes in sight, when he advances warily, keeping above them, and concealing himself among the rocks, as he makes his approaches, till he gets immediately over them, and near enough for his purpose. He then begins to push down with his paws pieces of rock among the herd below. This manoeuvre is not followed by any attempt to pursue, until he finds he has maimed one of the flock, upon which a course immediately ensues that proves successful or otherwise, according to the hurt the barein has received.
Dr. Percival, in his 'Dissertations,' mentions the following singular and affecting instance of that sagacity and social feeling by which the race of rooks is characterized :- 'A large colony of rooks had subsisted many years in a grove on the banks of the river Irwell, near Manchester. One serene evening I placed myself within view of it, and marked with attention the various labours, pastimes, and evolutions of this crowded society. The idle members amused themselves with chasing each other through endless mazes; and in their flight they made the air sound with an infinitude of discordant noises. In the midst of these playful exertions it unfortunately happened that one rook, by a sudden turn, struck his beak against the wing of another.
The sufferer instantly fell into the river. A general cry of distress ensued. The birds hovered with every expression of anxiety over their distressed companion.
'Animated by their sympathy, and perhaps by the language of counsel known to themselves, he sprang into the air, and by one strong effort reached the point of a rock which projected into the river. The joy became loud and universal; but, alas! it was soon changed into notes of lamentation, for the poor wounded bird, in attempting to fly towards his nest, dropped again into the river and was drowned, amid the moans of his whole fraternity.'
During a fox hunt in Lanarkshire. Reynard being hard pressed, was reduced to the necessity of taking refuge up a chimney of one of the hot-houses in Hamilton Castle. He was followed by one of the hounds, who, passing through a flue upwards of fifty feet in length, came out at the top of the chimney, but missed Reynard in his murky recess. By this time a number of people were collected at the top of the chimney, who let down a terrier, who soon made him come in view, holding fast by his brush.
One Swallow does not make Summer.
The frequent appearance of single swallows on the verge of summer, many days before the general arrival of the tribe, has given rise to the common proverb, that 'one swallow never made summer.' They seem as if, like Noah's dove, they were despatched from the main body to spy and report on the appearance of the earth, or to find the longitude or latitude of their flight. A diligent observer of nature assures us, that the first of these scouts who arrives at the old haunt of a colony will remain, as it were, to take and keep possession; and that a second and third will arrive, but after a short time will go away again, doubtless to convey intelligence to the main body of the state in which matters are, before they attempt their general migration.
In a village, situated between Caen and Vire, on the borders of the district called the Grove, there dwelt, says M. Huet, Bishop of Avranches, a peasant of a surly untoward temper, who frequently beat and abused his wife, insomuch that the neighbours were sometimes obliged by her outcries to interpose, in order to prevent further mischief. At length, weary of living with one whom he hated, he resolved to make away with her. He pretended to be reconciled, altered his conduct, and on holidays invited her to walk out with him. One evening in summer, after a very hot day, he carried her to cool and repose herself on the borders of a spring, in a shady and solitary place. He affected to be very thirsty, and the clearness of the water tempted both of them to drink; but as soon as he saw his wife laying down and drinking, he threw himself upon her, and plunged her head into the water in order to drown her. She struggled hard, but could not have saved herself, had it not been for the assistance of a dog who used to follow her, and never left her company. He immediately flew upon the husband, seized him by the throat, made him quit his hold, and thus saved the life of his mistress
Escape of Jengis Khan.
The Mogul and Kalmuc Tartars attribute to the white owl, the preservation of Jengis Khan, the founder of their empire; and they pay it on that account almost divine honours. The prince, with a small army, happened to be surprised and put to flight by his enemies. Forced to seek concealment in a coppice, an owl settled on the bush under which he was hid. At the sight of this animal the prince's pursuers never thought of searching the spot, conceiving it impossible that such a bird would perch where any human being was concealed. Jengis escaped, and ever after his countrymen held the white owl sacred, and every one wore a plume of its feathers on his head. The Kalmucs continue the custom to this day, at all their great festivals; and some tribes have an idol in the form of an owl, to which they fasten the real legs of this bird.
It is customary in large boarding houses to announce the dinner hour by the sound of a bell. A cat belonging to one of these houses always hastened to the hall on hearing the bell, to get its accustomed meal; but it happened one day that she was shut up in a chamber, and it was in vain for her that the bell had sounded. Some hours after, having been emancipated from her confinement, she hastened to the hall, but found nothing left for her. The cat thus disappointed got to the bell, and sounding it, endeavoured to summon the family to a second dinner, in which she doubted not to participate.
The Secretary Falcon.
M. le Vaillant gives an account of a remarkable engagement of which he was a witness, between the secretary falcon and a serpent. The serpent is the chief enemy of the falcon in all the countries which it inhabits, and the mode in which it wages war against it is very peculiar. When the falcon approaches a serpent, it always carries the point of one of its wings forward, in order to parry off its venomous bites; sometimes it finds an opportunity of spurning and treading upon its antagonist; or else, of taking him upon its pinions, and throwing him into the air. When by this system it has, at length, wearied out its adversary, and rendered him almost senseless, it kills and swallows him at leisure. On the occasion which Vaillant mentions, the battle was obstinate, and conducted with equal address on both sides. The serpent, feeling at last his inferiority, endeavoured to regain his hole; while the bird apparently guessing his design, stopped him on a sudden, and cut off his retreat by placing herself before him at a single leap. On whatever side the reptile endeavoured to make his escape, the enemy still appeared before him. Rendered desperate, the serpent resolved on a last effort. He erected himself boldly to intimidate the bird, and hissing dreadfully, displayed his menacing throat, inflamed eyes, and a head swollen with rage and venom. The falcon seemed intimidated for a moment, but soon returned to the charge; and covering her body with one of her wings as a buckler, struck her enemy with the bony protuberance of the other. M. Vaillant saw the serpent at last stagger and fall; the conqueror then fell upon him to despatch him, and with one stroke of her beak laid open his skull.
The wasp, during its existence as a perfect insect, attaches itself to flowers; when it is ready to lay its eggs, it digs a cylindrical hole in a clayey sand, and deposits an egg at the bottom; it then goes among some cabbages, and seizes upon a small green caterpillar which it had never before made its prey. This caterpillar the wasp pricks with its sting, so as to weaken it, in order that it may not make any resistance against the worm which is about to issue from the egg, and devour it; it then rolls it up into a circular form, and places it at the bottom of the hole; the wasp then proceeds to fetch eleven similar caterpillars successively, which it treats in the same manner; it then closes up the hole, and dies. The small worm is now hatched; it devours the twelve caterpillars in succession, and then metamorphoses itself into a wasp, which leaves its subterraneous apartment, and flies about among the flowers.
The Battle Foundling.
The Marquess of Worcester has a poodle dog which was taken from the grave of his master, a French officer who fell at the battle of Salamanca, and was buried on the spot. This dog had remained on the grave until he was nearly starved; and even then was removed with difficulty; so faithful was he to the remains of him he had tenderly loved.
In the mountainous parts of Scotland and Wales, where the liberty the sheep enjoy renders them very wild, they exhibit a remarkable deviation from their generally timorous habit. A ram, or a wether, will often attack a single dog, and come off victorious; and where the danger is beyond the power of one individual to repel, recourse is had to the collective force of the whole flock. On such occasions they have been seen forming themselves into a close compact body, with the females and young in the centre, whilst the males took the foremost ranks. Presenting thus an armed front on all sides, they wait with firmness the approach of the enemy; nor does their courage fail them in the moment of attack; for when the aggressor advances within a few yards of the line, the rams dart upon him with such impetuosity as to lay him dead at their feet, unless he saves himself by flight. Against the attacks of single dogs or foxes, when in this situation, they are perfectly secure.
A few years ago, a Mr. Rutter doing duty at the castle of Cape Town, kept a tame baboon for his amusement. One evening it broke its chains unknown to him. In the night, climbing up into the belfry, it began to play with, and ring the bell. Immediately the whole place was in an uproar; some great danger was apprehended. Many thought that the castle was on fire; others, that an enemy had entered the bay, and the soldiers began actually to turn out, when it was discovered that the baboon had occasioned the disturbance. On the following morning a courtmartial was held, when, Cape justice dictated, that whereas Master Rutter's baboon had unnecessarily put the castle into alarm, the master should receive fifty lashes; Mr. R., however, found means to evade the punishment.
Union of Labour.
A swallow's nest, built in the west corner of a window facing the north, was so much softened by rain beating against it, as to render it unfit to support the weight of a superincumbent load of five well-grown young swallows; during a violent storm the nest fell into the corner below, leaving the young brood exposed to all the fury of the blast. To save the poor creatures from an untimely death, the owner of the house benevolently caused a covering to be thrown over them till the severity of the storm abated. No sooner had it subsided, than the sages of the colony assembled, fluttering round the window, and hovering over the temporary covering of the fallen nest. As soon as this careful anxiety was observed, the covering was removed, and the utmost joy evinced by the group on finding the young ones alive and unhurt. After feeding them, the members of this assembled community arranged themselves into working order. Each division taking its appropriate station, fell instantly to work, and before night-fall they had jointly completed an arched canopy over the young brood in the corner where they lay, and securely covered them against a succeeding blast. Calculating the time occupied by them in performing this piece of architecture, it appeared evident that the young must have perished from cold or hunger before any single pair could have executed half the job.
The captain of a Greenland whaler being anxious to procure a bear, without wounding the skin, made trial of the stratagem of laying the noose of a rope in the snow, and placing a piece of kreng within it. A bear ranging the neighbouring ice, was soon enticed to the spot by the smell of burning meat. He perceived the bait, approached, and seized it in his mouth; but his foot at the same time, by a jerk of the rope, being entangled in the noose, he pushed it off with his paw, and deliberately retired. After having eaten the piece he had carried away with him, he returned. The noose, with another piece of kreng, being replaced, he pushed the rope aside, and again walked triumphantly off with the kreng. A third time the noose was laid; but excited to caution by the evident observations of the bear, the sailors buried the rope beneath the snow, and laid the bait in a deep hole dug in the centre. The bear once more approached, and the sailors were assured of their success. But bruin, more sagacious than they expected, after snuffing about the place for a few moments, scraped the snow away with his paw, threw the rope aside, and again escaped unhurt with his prize.
Battles of the Ants.
'Thus in battalia march embody'd ants.'
The wars entered into by ants of different size, bear no resemblance to those in which they combat with an equal force. When the large ants attack the small, they appear to do it by surprise; but when the small ants have time to guard against an attack, they intimate to their companions the danger with which they are threatened, when the latter arrive in crowds to their assistance. I have (says M. Huber) witnessed a battle between the herculean and sanguine ants; the herculean ants quitted the trunk of the tree in which they had established their abode, and reached the very gates of the dwelling of the sanguine ants; the latter, only half the size of their adversaries, had the advantage in point of number; they however acted on the defensive. The earth, strewed with the dead bodies of their compatriots, bore witness that they had suffered the greatest carnage; they therefore took the prudent part of fixing their habitations elsewhere, and with great activity transported to a distance of fifty feet from the spot, their companions and the several objects that interested them. Small detachments of the workers were posted at little distances from the nest, apparently placed there to cover the march of the recruits, and to preserve the city itself from any sudden attack. They struck against each other when they met, and had always their mandibles separated in the attitude of defiance. As soon as the herculean ants approached their camp, the sentinels in front assailed them with fury; they fought at first in single combat. The sanguine ant threw himself upon the herculean ant, fastened on his head, and inundated it with venom. It sometimes quitted its antagonist with great quickness; more frequently, however, the herculean ant held between its feet its audacious enemy. The two champions then rolled themselves up in the dust, and struggled violently. The advantage was at first in favour of the largest ant; but its adversary was soon assisted by those of its own party, who collected round the herculean ant, and inflicted several deep wounds with their teeth. The herculean ant yielded to numbers; it either perished the victim of its temerity, or was conducted a prisoner to the enemy's camp.
Such are the combats between ants of different size; but if we wish to behold regular armies wage war in all its forms, we must visit those forests in which the fallow ants establish their dominion over every insect in their territory. It is in these forests (continues the same author) I have witnessed the inhabitants of two large ant-hills, engaged in spirited combat. They were composed of ants of the same species, alike in their extent and population, and were situated about a hundred paces, distance from each other. Two empires could not possess a greater number of combatants.
This prodigious crowd of insects covered the ground lying between the two ant-hills, and occupying a space of two feet in breadth. Both armies met at half way from their respective habitations, and there the battle commenced. Thousands of ants took their station upon the highest ground, and fought in pairs, keeping firm hold of their antagonists; a considerable number were engaged in the attack, and others in leading away prisoners. The latter made several ineffectual efforts to escape, as if aware that, upon their arrival, they would experience a cruel death. The scene of warfare occupied the space of about three feet square. Those ants composing groups and chains, took hold of each other's legs and pincers, and dragged their antagonists to the ground. These groups formed successively. The fight usually commenced by two ants, who seized each other by the mandibles. They were frequently so closely wedged together, that they fell upon their sides, and fought a long time in that situation in the dust, until a third came to decide the contest. It more commonly happened that both ants received assistance at the same time, when the whole four made ineffectual attempts to gain the battle. Ants of both parties joined them; and it was in this way they formed chains of six, eight, or ten ants, all firmly locked together; the equilibrium was only broken when several warriors from the same republic advanced at the same time, who compelled those that were enchained to let go their hold, when the single combats again took place.
On the approach of night, each party returned gradually to the city, which served it for an asylum. The ants, which were either killed or led away into captivity, not being replaced by others, the number of combatants diminished until their force was exhausted.
The ants returned to the field of battle before dawn. The groups again formed; the carnage recommenced with greater fury than on the preceding evening, and the scene of combat occupied a space of six feet in length, by two feet in breadth. Success was for a long time doubtful; about mid-day the contending armies had removed to the distance of a dozen feet from one of their cities. The ants fought so desperately, that nothing could withdraw them from their enterprise; they seemed absorbed in one single object, that of finding an enemy to contend with.
These wars offer something very surprising; the instinct which enables each ant to know his own party, even in the midst of the battle's rage. They sometimes attack those of their own party; but on recognising them, immediately relax their hold, and caress each other.
The common operations of the two colonies were not suspended during this warfare; the paths which led to a distance in the forest, were as much crowded as in time of peace,and all around the ant-hill order and tranquillity prevailed, with the exception only of that side on which the battle was raging. A crowd of these insects were constantly to be seen setting off for the scene of combat, while others were returning with their prisoners. This war terminated without any disastrous results to the two republics; long continued rains shortened its duration, and the warriors ceased to frequent the road which led to the camp of the enemy.
The maternal affection of the whale, which in other respects is apparently, a stupid animal, is striking and interesting. The cub being insensible to danger is easily harpooned, when the tender affection of the mother is so manifested, as not unfrequently to bring it within reach of the whalers. Hence, though a cub is of little value, yet it is sometimes struck as a snare for its mother. In this case she joins it at the surface of the water, whenever it has occasion to rise for respiration; encourages it to swim away; assists its flight by taking it under her fin; and seldom deserts it while life remains. She is then dangerous to approach, but affords frequent opportunities for attack. She loses all regard for her own safety, in anxiety for the preservation of her young; dashes through the midst of her enemies; despises the danger that threatens her, and even voluntarily remains with her offspring after various attacks have been made upon herself. In the whale fishery of 1814, a harpooner struck a young whale with the hope of its leading to the mother. Presently she arose, and seizing the young one, dragged about a hundred fathoms of line out of the boat, with remarkable force and velocity. Again she rose to the surface; darted furiously to and fro; frequently stopped short, or suddenly changed her direction, and gave every possible intimation of extreme agony. For a length of time she continued thus to act, though closely pursued by the boats; and inspired with courage and resolution by her concern for her offspring, seemed regardless of the danger that surrounded her. Being at length struck with six harpoons, she was killed.
In the year 1814, a squirrel was caught in Ledstone Park, near Ferry Bridge, and lodged for safe custody in a trap used for taking rats alive. Here he remained for several weeks, till at length, panting for liberty, he contrived to make his escape through a window, and repaired once more to his native fields. The family in which he had been a sportive inmate, were not a little vexed at the loss of their little favourite, and the servant was ordered in the evening of the same day to remove the trap, that they might no longer be reminded of their loss; but on proceeding to discharge his duty, he found to his surprise that the squirrel, all wet and ruffled by the storm, had reassumed his station, and again taken up his lodgings in a corner of the trap.
Bears in Jeopardy.
A Greenland bear, with two cubs under its protection, was pursued across a field of ice by a party of armed sailors. At first she seemed to urge the young ones to an increase of speed, by running before them, turning round and manifesting by a peculiar action and voice, her anxiety for their progress; but finding her pursuers gaining upon them, she carried, or pushed, or pitched them alternately forward, until she effected their escape. In throwing them before her, the little creatures are said to have placed themselves across her path to receive the impulse, and when projected some yards in advance, they ran onwards until she overtook them, when they alternately adjusted themselves for another throw.
The American Indians are known to be excellent runners, being almost able to match the swiftest horses. The bull-frog of American swamps is also well known for its surprising power of leaping, often compassing three yards at one leap. In order to make a trial of its powers, some Swedes laid a wager with a young Indian, that he could not overtake a full-grown bull-frog, provided it had two leaps in advance. They caught one in a pond, and carried it into a field at some distance, where applying a burning faggot to its tail, the irritated animal bounded across the field towards the pond as fast as it could, the Indian following with all his might. The race was however no match; the frog had regained the pond before the Indian was within many yards of it.
A wild stork was brought by a farmer in the neighbourhood of Hamburgh, into his poultry yard, to be the companion of a tame one, which he had long kept there; but the tame stork disliking a rival, fell upon the poor stranger, and beat him so unmercifully that he was compelled to take wing, and with some difficulty escaped. About four months afterwards, however, he returned to the poultry yard, recovered of his wounds, and attended by three other storks, who no sooner alighted, than they all together fell upon the same stork, and killed him.
One of the carriers of a New York paper called the Advocate, having become indisposed, his son took his place; but not knowing the subscribers he was to supply, he took for his guide a dog which had usually attended his father. The animal trotted on, a-head of the boy, and stopped at every door where the paper was in use to be left, without making a single omission or mistake.
In the month of June, 1812, a female bear, with two cubs, approached near a whaler, and was shot. The cubs not attempting to escape, were taken alive. These animals, though at first evidently very unhappy, became at length in some measure reconciled to their situation, and being tolerably tame, were allowed occasionally to go at large about the deck. While the ship was moored to a floe, a few days after they were taken, one of them having a rope fastened round his neck, was thrown overboard. It immediately swam to the ice, got upon it, and attempted to escape. Finding itself however detained by the rope, it endeavoured to disengage itself in the following ingenious way. Near the edge of the floe was a crack in the ice of considerable length, but only eighteen inches or two feet wide, and three or four feet deep. To this spot the bear turned; and when on crossing the chasm, the bight of the rope fell into it, he placed himself across the opening; then suspending himself by his hind feet, with a leg on each side, he dropped his head and most part of his body into the chasm; and with a foot applied to each side of the neck, attempted for some minutes to push the rope over his head. Finding this scheme ineffectual, he removed to the main ice, and running with great impetuosity from the ship, gave a remarkable pull on the rope; then going backward a few steps, he repeated the jerk. At length, after repeated attempts to escape this way, every failure of which he announced by a significant growl, he yielded himself to his hard necessity, and lay down on the ice in angry and sullen silence.
Elephants were, of old, employed in India in the launching of ships. Ludolph relates, that one being directed to force a very large vessel into the water, the work proved superior to its strength; his master, with sarcastic tone, bid the keeper take away the lazy beast, and bring another: the poor animal instantly repeated his efforts, fractured his skull, and died on the spot.
The Catcher Caught.
During a sudden inundation of the Rhine, a hare unable to escape through the water to an eminence, climbed up a tree. One of the boatmen rowing about to assist the unfortunate inhabitants observing puss, rowed up to the tree, and mounted it, eager for the game, without properly fastening his boat. The terrified hare, on the approach of its pursuer, sprang from the branch into the boat, which thus set in motion floated away, leaving its owner in the tree in dread of being washed away by the current. After several hours' anxiety, he was perceived, and taken off by some of his companions.
Mr. Adanson, in his 'Voyage to Senegal,' &c. mentions, that during the time of his residence at Podor, a French factory on the banks of the river Niger, there were two ostriches, though young, of gigantic size, which afforded him a very remarkable sight. 'They were,' he says, 'so tame, that two little blacks mounted both together on the back of the largest. No sooner did he feel their weight, than he began to run as fast as possible, and carried them several times round the village, as it was impossible to stop him otherwise than by obstructing the passage. This sight pleased me so much, that I wished it to be repeated, and to try their strength, directed a full grown negro to mount the smallest, and two others the largest. This burthen did not seem at all disproportionate to their strength. At first they went at a tolerably sharp trot, but when they became heated a little, they expanded their wings as though to catch the wind, and moved with such fleetness, that they scarcely seemed to touch the ground. Most people have one time or other seen a partridge run; and consequently know that there is no man whatever able to keep up with it; and it is easy to imagine, that if this bird had a longer step, its speed would be considerably augmented. The ostrich moves like the partridge, with this advantage; and I am satisfied that those I am speaking of, would have distanced the fleetest race horses that were ever bred in England. It is true they would not hold out so long as a horse; but they would undoubtedly go over a given space in less time. I have frequently beheld this sight, which is capable of giving one an idea of the prodigious strength of an ostrich, and of shewing what use it might be of, had we but the method of breaking and managing it as we do a horse.'
Plutarch tells us of a magpie belonging to a barber at Rome, which could imitate to a nicety almost every word it heard. Some trumpets happened one day to be sounded before the shop, and for a day or two afterwards the magpie was quite mute, and seemed pensive and melancholy. All who knew it were greatly surprised at its silence; and it was supposed that the sound of the trumpets had so stunned it, as to deprive it at once of both voice and hearing. It soon appeared, however, that this was far from being the case; for, says Plutarch, the bird had been all the time occupied in profound meditation, studying how to imitate the sound of the trumpets; and when at last master of it, the magpie, to the astonishment of all its friends, suddenly broke its long silence, by a perfect imitation of the flourish of trumpets it had heard; observing with the greatest exactness all the repetitions, stops, and changes. The acquisition of this lesson had however exhausted the whole of the magpie's stock of intellect; for it made it forget everything it had learned before.
Mr. Isaac Hall, gardener at Lenton Abbey, near Nottingham, in removing some rubbish, discovered two ground toads of an uncommon size, 'weighing no less than seven pound.' On finding them, he was surprised to see, that one of them got upon the back of the other, and both proceeded to move slowly on the ground towards a place of retreat; upon further examination he found that the one on the back of the other had received a severe contusion from his spade, and was rendered unable to get away, without the assistance of its companion
A Mother Watching her Young.
Abbe de la Pluche, in his 'Spectacle de la Nature,' has the following singular instance of the far-sighted watchfulness of the turkeyhen over her young. 'I have heard,' he says, 'a turkey-hen, when at the head of her brood, send forth the most hideous scream, without being able to perceive the cause; her young ones, however, immediately when the warning was given, skulked under the bushes, the grass, or whatever else seemed to offer shelter or protection. They even stretched themselves at full length on the ground, and continued motionless, as if dead. In the meantime, the mother with her eyes directed upwards, continued her cries and screaming as before. On looking up in the direction in which she seemed to gaze, I discovered a black spot just under the clouds, but was unable at first to determine what it was; however, it soon appeared to be a bird of prey, though at first at too great a distance to be distinguished. I have seen one of these animals continue in this agitated state, and her whole brood pinned down, as it were, to the ground for four hours together; whilst their formidable foe has taken its circuits, has mounted and hovered directly over their heads; at last, upon his disappearing, the parent changed her note, and sent fort another cry, which in an instant gave life to the whole trembling tribe, and they all flocked round her with expressions of pleasure, as if conscious of their happy escape from danger.'
The ancient Greeks and Romans used to make quails fight with each other in the same manner as the moderns do game cocks. The quail is an animal of undaunted courage, and will perish rather than yield. In the time of Augustus, there was one which had acquired such celebrity for its victories, that a certain Prefect of Egypt thought he could not pay the emperor a higher compliment, than by serving it up at his table. Augustus, incensed at seeing so noble an animal put to so base a use, repaid the servility of the prefect by ordering him to be put to death.
The fighting of quails is even at present a fashionable diversion in China, and in some parts of Italy.
Venturing to Sea.
In 1798, a covey of partridges having been disturbed by some men at plough, near East Dean, in Sussex, took their flight across the cliff to the sea, over which they continued course about three hundred yards.
Either intimidated or otherwise affected by that element, the whole were then observed to drop into the water. Twelve of them were soon afterwards floated by the tide to the shore, where they were picked up by a boy, who carried them to Eastbourne and sold them.
Deceiving the Fowler.
Mr. Markwick relates, that as he was once hunting with a young pointer, the dog ran on a brood of very small partridges. The old bird cried, fluttered, and ran trembling along just before the dog's nose, till she had drawn him to a considerable distance; when she took wing and flew farther off, but not out of the field. On this the dog returned nearly to the place where the young ones lay concealed in the grass, which the old bird no sooner perceived than she flew back again, settled first before the dog's nose, and a second time acted the same part, rolling and tumbling about till she drew off his attention from the brood, and thus succeeded in preserving them.'
The trumpeter-bird, in its tame state, has a habit of following persons; through the streets and out of town, even those whom it has never seen before. It is difficult to get rid of it: if a person enters a house, it will wait his return and again join him, though after an interval of some hours. M. de la Borde says, that he has sometimes betaken himself to his heels to get rid of them, but to no purpose. They sped faster than he could, and always got before him; when he stopped, they stopped also; wherever he moved, they were at his elbow. He says he knew one that invariably followed all the strangers who entered its master's house, accompanied them into the garden, took as many turns there as they did, and attended them back again.
The Stray Sheep.
I once witnessed,' says the Ettrick Shepherd, 'a very singular feat performed by a dog belonging to John Graham, late tenant in Ashiesteel.' A neighbour came to his house after it was dark, and told him that he had lost a sheep on his farm, and that if he (Graham) did not secure her in the morning early, she would be lost, as he had brought her far. John said he could not possibly get to the hill next morning, but if he would take him to the very spot where he lost the sheep, perhaps his dog Chieftain would find her that night. On that they went away with all expedition, lest the traces of the feet should cool, and I, then a boy, being in the house, went with them. The night was pitch dark, which had been the cause of the man losing his ewe, and at length he pointed out a place to John by the side of the water where he had lost her. 'Chieftain! fetch that,' said John; 'bring her back, sir.' The dog jumped around and around, and reared himself upon an end; but not being able to see anything, evidently misapprehended his master, on which John fell to scolding his dog, calling it a great many hard names. He at last told the man that he must point out the very track that the sheep went, otherwise he had no chance of recovering it. The man led him to a grey stone, and said he was sure she took the brae (hill side) within a yard of that. 'Chieftain; come hither to my foot, you great numb'd whelp.' said John. Chieftain came, John pointed with his finger to the ground. 'Fetch that, I say, sir; bring that back, away.' The dog scented slowly about on the ground for some seconds; but soon began to mend his pace, and vanished in the darkness. 'Bring her back, away, you great calf!' vociferated John, with a voice of exultation, as the dog broke to the hill. And as all these good dogs perform their work in perfect silence, we neither saw nor heard any more of him for a long time. I think, if I remember right, we waited there about half an hour; during which time all the conversation was about the small chance which the dog had to find the ewe, for it was agreed on all hands, that she must long ago have mixed with the rest of the sheep on the farm. How that was. no man will ever be able to decide. John, however, still persisted in waiting until his dog came back, either with the ewe or without her; and at last the trusty animal brought the individual lost sheep to our very feet, which the man took on his back, and went on his way rejoicing.'
Between the years 1750, and 1760, a Scottish lawyer of eminence made a journey to London. At that period such journeys were usually performed on horseback, and the traveller might either ride post, or if willing to travel economically, he bought a horse, and sold him at the end of his journey. The gentleman of whom we speak, who was a good judge of horses, as well as a good horseman, had chosen the latter mode of travelling, and had sold the horse on which he rode from Scotland as soon as he arrived in London. With a view to his return, he went to Smithfield to purchase a horse. About dusk, a handsome horse was offered to him at so cheap a rate, that he was led to suspect the animal to be unsound; but as he could discover no blemish he became the purchaser. Next morning he set out on his journey; his horse had excellent paces, and the first few miles, while the road was well frequented, our traveller spent in congratulating himself on his good fortune. On Common, and at a place where the road run down a slight ascent, and up another, the traveller met a clergyman driving a one-horse chaise. There was nobody within sight, and the horse by his manoeuvre plainly intimated what had been the profession of his former master. Instead of passing the chaise, he laid his counter close up to it, and stopt it, having no doubt that his rider would embrace so fair an opportunity of exercising his vocation. The clergyman, under the same mistake, produced his purse unasked, and assured the inoffensive and surprised horseman that it was unnecessary to draw his pistol. The traveller rallied his horse, with apologies to the gentleman whom he had unwillingly affrighted, and pursued his journey. The horse next made the same suspicious approach to a coach, from the windows of which a blunderbuss was levelled, with denunciations of death and destruction to the rider, though sackless, as he used to express it, of all offence in deed or word. In short, after his life had been once or twice endangered by the suspicions to which his horse's conduct gave rise, and his liberty as often threatened by peace officers, who were disposed to apprehend him as the notorious highwayman who had formerly ridden the horse, he found himself obliged to part with the inauspicious animal for a mere trifle, and to purchase at a dearer rate a horse of less external figure and action, but of better moral habits.
A young cat, which sometimes had the indulgence of taking her place in the domestic circle, upon the carpet before the fire in the parlour, one day came in when one of the party was spinning upon a line wheel. Having never seen such a thing before, she became extremely alarmed by its appearance and motion. She crouched down in an attitude of fear and of investigation; and yet at such a distance as would admit of a speedy retreat if it should prove to be alive, and an enemy. She crept slowly all along the wheel, with her eyes steadily fixed on it, and with a very singular expression of countenance, till at length, not being able to satisfy herself, she retreated towards the door, impatiently waiting to make her escape; which she did the moment it was in her power, with great precipitation.
The next morning, when she came into the room, the wheel then standing still, she advanced courageously towards it, and after an apparently careful examination, walking all round, ventured upon the further experiment of endeavouring to ascertain with her paw whether there was really anything to be apprehended from it. Still not finding any motion, our philosopher of the Newtonian school, satisfied that she had nothing to fear, seated herself quietly by the fire; and the next time she saw it in motion, she sprang gaily forward, and enjoyed her triumph, by playing with the object of her former terror.
An Ass Cast Away.
In March, 1816, an ass belonging to Captain Dundas, R. N., then at Malta, was shipped on board the Ister frigate, Captain Forrest, bound from Gibraltar for that island. The vessel struck on some sands off the Point de Gat, and the ass was thrown overboard, in the hope that it might possibly be able to swim to the land; of which, however, there seemed but little chance, for the sea was running so high, that a boat which left the ship was lost. A few days after, when the gates of Gibraltar were opened in the morning, the guard were surprised by Valiant, as the ass was called, presenting himself for admittance. On entering, he proceeded immediately to the stable of Mr. Weeks, a merchant, which he had formerly occupied. The poor animal had not only swam safely to the shore, but without guide, compass, or travelling map, had found his way from Point de Gat to Gibraltar, a distance of more than two hundred miles, through a mountainous and intricate country, intersected by streams, which he had never traversed before, and in so short a period, that he could not have made one false turn.
The Notes of Birds.
The cock speaks the language of his hens, and he speaks it as they do; but more than they do, he boasts in crowing of the power he possesses of receiving proofs of his tenderness. He sings his valour and his glory.
The goldfinch, linnet, and tomtit, sing their loves.
The chaffinch sings his love, and his selflove.
The canary bird sings his love, and his real talents.
The lark chaunts a hymn on the beauties of nature, and the vigour with which he cuts the air while he soars aloft in the presence of his mate, who is admiring him.
The swallow, all tenderness and affection, rarely sings alone, but in duo, trio; in short, in as many parts as there are members of the family. His gamut is very limited; however, its concert is full of sweetness.
The nightingale has three songs; that of suppliant love, at first languishing, then mixed with lively accents of impatience, which end in protracted notes full of pathos that touch the heart. In this song the female takes her part, by interrupting the couplet with tender notes; to which succeed an affirmative, timid and full of expression.
Remembrance of Home.
While the allied armies occupied France, in the year 1815, there was in the month of November of that year, a great fall of snow at Commercy, which covered the ground to the depth of eight or ten inches. When the Russian dragoons stationed there were taking their horses to water in the morning, these animals, surprised and delighted at a sight which doubtless reminded them of their own country, began to prance, neigh, and roll themselves in the snow. A number escaped from the hands of their conductors, who had great difficulty in catching them again.
Shipwrecked Crew Saved.
The Durham packet of Sunderland, was in 1815, wrecked near Clay, in Norfolk. A faithful dog was employed to use his efforts to carry the lead line on shore, from the vessel: but there being a very heavy sea, and a steep beach, it appeared that the drawback of the surf was too powerful for the animal to contend with. Mr. Parker, shipbuilder, of Wells, and Mr. jackson, junior, of Clay, who were on the spot, observing this, instantly rushed into the sea, which was running very high, and gallantly succeeded, though at a great risk, in catching hold of the dog, who was much exhausted, but who had all this time kept the line in his mouth; the line being thus obtained, a communication with the vessel was established, and a warp being passed from the ship to the shore, the lives of all on board, nine in number, including two children, were saved.
Honours Paid to Living and Departed Worth.
A good man (says Plutarch) will take care of his horses and dogs, not only when they are young, but when old and past service. Thus the people of Athens, when they had finished the temple called Hecatompedon, set at liberty the beasts of burden that had been chiefly employed in that work, suffering them to pasture at large, free from any farther service. It is said that one of these afterwards came of its own accord to work, and putting itself at the head of the labouring cattle, marched before them to the citadel. The people were pleased with this spontaneous action, and made a decree that the animal should be kept at the public charge as long as it lived. Many have shown particular marks of regard in burying animals which they had cherished and been fond of. The graves of Cimon's mares, with which he thrice conquered at the Olympic games, are still to be seen near his own tomb. Xanthippus, whose dog swam by the side of his galley to Salamis, when the Athenians were forced to abandon their city, afterwards buried it with great pomp upon a promontory, which to this day is called the dog's grave. In Pliny, we have an amusing account of a superb funeral ceremony, which took place during the reign of Claudius; in which the illustrious departed was no other than a crow, so celebrated for its talents and address, that it was looked upon as a sort of public property. Its death was felt as a national loss; the man who killed it was condemned to expiate the crime with his own life; and nothing less than a public funeral could, as it was thought, do justice to its memory. The remains of the animal were laid on a bier, which was borne by two slaves; musicians went before it, playing mournful airs; and an infinite number of persons, of all ages and conditions, brought up the rear of the melancholy procession.